Kraig Lowell Pullam

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

Archive for the category “Spiritual Formation”

Closure 

  Like time suspended,

A wound unmended-

You and I. 

We had no ending,

no said goodbye;

For all my life, 

I’ll wonder why.

The above poem was written by Lang Leav, gifted and noted author, in her own write. I believe her poem “Closure” echoes the sentiments of many who are wishing to tie up loose ends as 2015 comes to a screeching halt and takes its bow, and 2016 makes its grand entrance.  

Without giving a long discourse on closure; my hope and prayer is that God’s Holy Spirit would lead and prompt us to let it go and move on. I can think of some defining moments in my own life that could have potentially signatured my demise and downfall. From my own failures and disappointments to friends who I may have felt mistreated me, to relationships gone wrong, to church members who took advantage of the ministry provided to them and the like. However…God is the Author and Orchestrator of Divine Closure. And as a follower of Christ, we are never given the charge to make permanent responses to temporary issues. People, feelings and things should be granted the right of being funeralized, evicted and forgiven. 

We must be careful not to kill what God wants to live.  In like fashion, we should never attempt to resurrect what God wants to die. John 19:30 records the words of Christ as he is suspended on the Cross of Calvary between two theives and surrounded by an onlooking world gone wild, “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

Often, the finish can be bitterly sour; but it is necessary. There is often a blessing packaged in departure and benediction. When closure is divine and a part of God’s ultimate intent, God will bring comfort and consolation. The greatest error is to wallow in the thought of what could’ve been. In 2015 there may have been missed opportunities, fractured relationships and closed doors. That spells bad news. Here’s the good news: God specializes in bringing NEW opportunities, cultivating NEW relationships and opening NEW doors!  

So I would encourage anyone to simply stop rehearsing the past that cannot be changed; quit crying over spilt milk; and stop re-writing closed chapters. Trust in the eternal truth that God GIVES to us more than He TAKES from us; and He will remain faithful when the tides change, chapters close and life happens. 

I am praying for you; and invite you to turn the corner, and head down the avenue called DIVINE CLOSURE!

Sunday Reflections

  
God be praised for another Lord’s day!It is hard to believe the last Sunday of 2015 has come and it has gone. 

If I have a Sunday morning preaching Goliath, I’d have to say it is typically the last Sunday of the year. There. I said it! 

For me, the primary reason it is so difficult for me is because the Christmas week, according to the Guiness Book of World Records (🙊) is officially the “fastest week ever, in America”….especially with 1) Having children who aren’t in school 2) Having children who think Daddy not having Bible Study at the church the rest of the year means more time for them. 3) The day before Christmas entails traveling to your hometown; and the day after entails recovering from the aftermath. 4) Me loving every minute of it, especially #2!!! (Note: 12 year old going on 13, not so much!)

 

So…..

 

Here’s my outline…

 

Title: Releasing the Unforgiving Prisoner of Your Pastor

Text: 2 Corinthians 2:5-11

C.I.T.: Paul’s instruction of restoring an offender illustrates godly lessons in how and why we should let it go.

 

I. Letting it Go Communicates God’s Mercy (Vss. 5 – 6)

 

II. Letting it Go Restores the Offender (Vss. 7-8)

 

III. Letting it Go Displays Obedience (Vs. 9. “…if you would…stand the test and be obedient…”

 

IV. Letting it Go Mirrors the Character of Christ (Vs. 10. “…forgive…forgiven…”)

 

V. Letting it Go Disarms the Devil’s Antics (Vs. 11. “…in order that Satan might not outwit us…”)

 

It was a long week. Well, rather, a short week! During the week of Christmas, I have found extreme difficulty putting together my message on the last Sunday of each year, for years. I thought I had nailed down Genesis 13, which is the detailed account of Lot and Abraham parting ways. Then…this led to my going back to Genesis 12 with the calling of Abram. Before I knew it, I simply had a preliminary skeleton of an outline of Genesis 13 (a passage I had never preached before) and a re-working of Genesis 12 (a passage I had preached a few times)…looking at all of these notes on Christmas Eve, with a 2-part tentative sermon series on “The Blessing of Saying Goodbye.”. Simply put (fast forward)…I spent the little time I had left sifting through the above 2 Corinthians 2 passage to share with our people. 

 

Because of prayer, my heavy study of 2 Corinthians 2 in the past, google, experience, Bible software and other ministry helps…the Lord faithfully saw me through the preaching delivery, I trust. I thank God for the 1 who came forward for prayer and the other the join in fellowship with our congregation through membership. 

 

While I cannot explain or accurately describe both my peace and joy this last week of 2015; I can honestly say I am grateful for so much. My family, the people I serve, along with my friends and the opportunity I am given to minister to so many in chaplaincy – have compelled me to stand in amazement and awe. God has been good to me! While it hasn’t been the way I would have planned it out…I wouldn’t change anything about my story, up to this point. 

 

Who, but God, knows what the New Year will bring. My short-version prayer is that I would be in the center of His will for my life. His will trumps my plans, desires, comfort or willingness to get the big picture. I’m going to trust Him more in 2016; and believe He plan and purpose is bigger than my own, and lead my family into that plan. This is also my prayer for every person with whom I pastor, my family, friends and those who are reading this now. The Best is Yet to Come!

 

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!

Valley of Vision

  

Each Monday, I try to return to this prayer. The roots of our longings often grow deeper, not on our mountains; but in our valleys. *Psalm 23:4*

The Valley of Vision

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,

You have brought me to the valley of vision,

where I live in the depths but see you in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold your glory.

Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up,

that to be low is to be high,

that the broken heart is the healed heart,

that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,

that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,

that to have nothing is to possess all,

that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,

that to give is to receive,

that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter your stars shine;

Let me find your light in my darkness,

your life in my death,

your joy in my sorrow,

your grace in my sin,

your riches in my poverty,

your glory in my valley.

Today, Live Today! by Max Lucado’

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“Today, I will live today.
Yesterday is past.
Tomorrow is not yet.
I’m left with today.
So, today, I will live today.

Relive yesterday? No.
I will learn from it.
I will seek mercy for it.
I will take joy in it.
But I won’t live in it.
The sun has set on yesterday.

The sun has yet to rise on tomorrow.
Worry about the future? To what gain?
It deserves a glance, nothing more.
I can’t change tomorrow until tomorrow.

Today I will live today.
I will face today’s challenges with today’s strength.
I will dance today’s waltz with today’s music.
I will celebrate today’s opportunities with today’s hope.

Today.
May I laugh, listen, learn, and love today.
And, tomorrow, if it comes, may I do so again.”

– Max Lucado

The Waiting Game

imageWaiting for God is not laziness. Waiting for God is not going to sleep. Waiting for God is not the abandonment of effort. Waiting for God means, first, activity under command; second, readiness for any new command that may come; third, the ability to do nothing until the command is given.”

I recently read, again, this quote by one of my favorite Christian writers in church history, G. Campbell Morgan. And each time I read these words, I am floored! The primary reason for my overwhelmed response is because I realize that if there is anything I hate to do, I hate to WAIT. I hate to wait for anything. A flight. At a restaurant. An appointment. A movie. Anything… Well, anything except my imminent appointment with death. That can wait! But anything else…I wouldn’t mind kissing Miss. Wait goodbye… Another reason I am taken aback by Morgan’s statement is because it always seems to find my location. It is just my luck – I always find myself behind the person, out of all the bank lanes, who needs a deposit slip, then a pen, then another deposit slip for another account and has a host of questions for the teller. I’m the guy who stands in the grocery line behind the clerk who is with a customer who forgot an important item. Yes; that’s me! My final reason for being overwhelmed by Morgan’s statement is the fact that waiting seems universal. ALL of us must wait. In fact, when we came in this world, someone had to wait for our arrival. Regular people and prominent people all must wait too. Why? Because waiting is our universal reality.

So many of us are waiting on God to move. I run into so many people who fill out job applications, but it only leads to another rejection. There are persons I know who serve in a ministry field that doesn’t seem to fit into the vision they’ve imagined; and God just seems to keep them there with no way out. I know of others whose biological clock is ticking, and there seems to be no prospect of finding their “happily ever after” with a loving spouse and well-behaved children. I could go on and on. But here is another reality – when you’re waiting, and it seems as if God isn’t moving, or as if He doesn’t care; and the wicked are flourishing and succeeding. It can be disheartening when you’ve been standing in line, placed your order, paid your bill and standing to the side, while others behind you do the same, but they recieve their order and depart while you continue to wait.

Morgan says that waiting on God is not passivity or apathy. Like a good waiter or waitress, waiting on Him requires paying attention to every delicacy, detail, whim and need. A good waiter or waitress will not leave their guest disappointed because of menial service. The waiter is alert! The waiter is marked present! In like manner, if you are a child of God, it is your Christian duty to pay attention to every spiritual delicacy your Father has while you wait on Him to move. It’s His party; and it’s His table. He leaves and He will move when He gets ready. None of us are “off the clock” until He says so. The question, then, is how are you conducting yourself in the waiting room? Are you focusing so much on your next level that you are mismanaging your current level? Are you so intent on getting others straight and getting even that you haven’t grown in your own faith-walk with God? Have you sought comfort with all of the worldly things that the world offers in an effort to take your mind off of the reality that you’re still waiting?

This week I am reading and studying through Psalm 13. Psalm 13 and therabout seems to chronicle the period between David’s anointing at his father’s house and his future elevation as the king of Judah. He is living in the court of king Saul and Saul despises him. He is waiting. And David is perplexed in Psalm 13; and he doesn’t hide his overwhelming frustration with how long he’s been waiting for God to make His next move. First, it is important to lay your sorrow bare before the Lord. (Psalm 13:1-2) Second, Psalm 13:3-4 teaches us that the only place to carry our heaviest burdens is on our knees, in our prayer closet, in supplication before God. Finally, Psalm 13:5-6 shows us that David confirms future victory with the receipt of a rejoicing heart.

i have to be honest, however…I’m glad God is faithful, even when we mismanage life in the waiting room. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject; and invite you to share this blog with family and friends, if it’s been helpful to you. Blessings!

What We Can Learn From Lamar Odom Ordeal

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Confession is good for the soul; even if it’s not good for the reputation.

I’m a Los Angeles Laker fan.

There.
I said it!
I can’t really say how I became a fan, considering there’s no one in my immediate family or friendship circle growing up who liked the Laker franchise. Nevertheless, I like them!
One of my favorite Lakers is Lamar Odom. Yes…I said that too! 

On October 13, 2015, Odom was hospitalized after being discovered unconscious at the Love Ranch, a brothel in Crystal, Nevada. Those who are real fans, not only follow members of their team while they play, but after they have departed. And, those who are Christians, even pray for these current and former members of their respective teams. I’m no exception. It is alleged that Lamar Odom has struggled with substance abuse for the past few years. As a result, many have ascribed the constant turmoil in his life, in recent years, to many of the personal struggles he has with drugs. An abrupt marriage (marrying Khloe Kardashian after a month of dating), being traded from the Lakers to the Dallas Mavericks and then by to the Los Angeles Clippers, the list goes on and on, those who already didn’t know him coming to know him through a popular reality show; in a very public divorce; losing his best friend a few months ago; the list goes on and on.
One thing I think is certain – Lamar Odom needed help!

It leads me to make a few observations and/or ask a couple of questions.
1. Where are the roots?
2. Why are many Christians quick to believe we will not deal with our daddy’s demons or our mother’s mess?
3. Why do some manage life’s adversities better/worse than others?
4. Lamar Odom has always seemed to be a very nice/respectable/decent young man. But nice people are still human; and we must realize that we all have some things with which we wrestle and must work to overcome.
5. Can you help someone that doesn’t want help, feels they don’t have a problem or will not listen?

Because I am a Pastor and a minister, I cannot help but see how the aforementioned apply to not only our families and those in our friendship circle, but also within the Christian church. Acts 6 is the perfect example of leadership coming to grips with everyday human issues and struggles within the church. We are a spiritual entity; but we are also physically human. Any casual study of the Corinthian church would result in the obvious analysis that we can be gifted and struggle with human issues.
I am convinced that Jesus specialized in the study of human psychology and human behavior. And if the church is going to ministry effectively to those who are struggling with addictions, issues regarding their sexuality, family frictions, relational issues, etcetera, then the church must, by and large, bridge the gap that exists between what we proclaim on Sunday and how we manage life Monday through Saturday night.
Christian leaders commit suicide.
Deacons struggle with insecurity.
Choir members lie.
Trustees steal.

i can go on and on….

Are these just simply to be thrown to the logic of “we all have something we have to live with”? When do we decipher what is our “thorn” and what needs to be identified, confronted, biblically handled, prayerfully removed or corrected and the person changed?

Whenever there’s a “thorn” or habit that causes me to keep telling God, “I’m sorry”, it is probably a clear indication that there is something that needs to be crucified and not resurrected again. There are many things we are trying to resurrect that God wants to die in us. In like manner, there are many things that we are trying to kill, that God wants to live. Unfortunately, when there is unconfessed sin, it can be difficult to decipher between the two (Reference James 4:3; 2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 John 2:3–6; 3:7–10). I think that a strong, biblical congregation moves toward a biblical understanding and practice of Eldership; and also a strong, unwavering and biblical stance on church discipline.
As I pray for Lamar Odom to have a complete turnaround in his life, marriage and career (with his influence, there is life beyond playing basketball on the court… that at 35 years of age, he would see this as an opportunity to turn a minus into a PLUS. Because, after all….after being in a coma; reports that he would be a vegetable, etcetera…he has now awakened, off of life-support and is now walking and has been moved from the ICU in a Las Vegas Hospital to rehabilitation in Los Angeles, California.
May those of us who are apart of Christ’s church specialized in taking those who’ve been in a spiritual coma because of failures and setbacks, and nurse them back to spiritual health, victory and restoration.

Would love to read your thoughts and for your to share and subscribe!

Sunday Reflections

God be praised for another Lord’s Day!
imageThis past Sunday I was out of the pulpit at the Mt. Salem Church. I had the privilege of preaching the 55th Church Anniversary of the Galilee Baptist Church in Shawnee, Texas, where my good friend Rev. Tony Rhone serves as the Leading Pastor. In a very real sense, God knows exactly what you need and when it is needed in one’s own life and, for the Pastor, in ministry. Not only are Tony and I kindred spirits, it has been refreshing to see somewhat similar congregations where we Pastor; and to see how his is flourishing and being strengthened through the pastoral leadership and diligent teaching of God’s Word. Ultimately, I’ve been encouraged by God’s faithfulness to a pastor and people who will follow Him as He leads them to fulfill the plan and purpose He has for His own church. Galilee and Pastor Rhone are a testament of this residing truth. And to see them receptive to God’s Word and to his leadership, was a great encouragement that my own congregation is moving in the right direction, to the glory of God. 

My sermon was “Dealing with Life’s Faltering Foundations”, an exposition of Psalm 11.  

Being a faithful student of Biblical exposition is more than a notion; and supersedes any given style. I believe that the best way to communicate God’s Word is in drawing out the meaning of the text. The meaning of the text gives birth to the meaning of the sermon. It’s that simple! AND…it’s just that hard! What makes it even harder, is when you are dealing with a writer who is apparently saying the same thing in a different way; and it is up to the expositor not to deviate from the point being made, in an effort to be different, eclectic or more interesting. The Psalms, I am learning, can be a bit repetitive, and can often seem redundant in nature. Psalm 11 is no exception. Nevertheless, the Psalter is dealing with renewing his confidence and trust in God, in the face of wickedness and evil.  

I am looking forward to standing in my own pulpit this coming Sunday; and to continue our study in the Psalms. Prayerfully, I am hoping to pick up in Psalm 12.  

In other news, my Cowboys are not doing well; but all is not lost. Lamar Odom, one apart of my Lakers, was found unconscious less than a week ago; and is said to have come out of a coma this evening. Unfortunately, the Houston Astros (the Houston team I love) is no longer a contender toward the eventual World Series. And, I am told, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. are in talks to fight again. This has been some kind of week. I have said to myself privately, time and again, that my goal is to blog each day; and more recently atleast more than once a week. But then, there have come the challenges of a more active family life at home, growing ministry at church, more responsibilities in chaplaincy….where does the time go? I am actively praying for more discipline and a secretary. On a more serious note – I am seeing some changes needing to take place in moving toward full-time ministry, and concentrating more on writing. I need every person I can find to lift me in prayer….for more discipline and…..a secretary. God be praised. I would love to hear your thoughts, about your week and for you to share this blog with others, if it is helpful to you. 

Blessings!

 

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!

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Sunday Reflections

God be praised for another day and week celebrating the presence of Christ; and fellowshipping with His saints. This past Lord’s Day and week have been both phenomenal and busy. December has, for our congregation, been a time of rest. Well….atleast that was the intention. We canceled all church activities for the entire month of December. My sentiment was this: “We will hit the ground running in 2015.” Passing the halfway mark of January, I can attest to the fact that this was and is true in the case of our congregation! I have adopted something I began years ago in my first pastorate—instituting in our church a theme/emphasis for each month. January has been our “Month of Renewal.” While this is not a new concept to myself; it is fairly new to our congregation. I suppose it is typically an unspoken…for January, in the least. Most people try to begin the new year in renewal. This month I have decided to forego our typical Spring Revival; and have decided to do a local concept of “Wednesdays in the Word.” During our regular midweek activities, we have canceled our regular activities; and we have invited a Pastor and Congregation for one of our sister churches to be with us throughout the month of January, each Wednesday night. This has been phenomenal!!! Thus far, we have been blessed tremendously. This past Wednesday, Rev. Kevin VanHook, Sr., and the St. Peter’s Church of Victoria were our special guests.

Since the new year began, I’ve been led to share from the Book of Joshua. My major emphasis has been to show how God has called the Body of Christ to transition in the midst of the recurring changes in our world. Pastoring a congregation that will celebrate 144 years in a few months, I envision seeing our church ‘age gracefully.’ On this past Lord’s Day, I shared from Joshua 2:9-19.

Here is the outline:
Title: How God Uses Trouble
I. God uses the unlikely, Vs. 1
II. God uses the what’s available, vss. 2-7
III. God uses our faith, vss. 8-16
IV. God uses us where we are, vss. 17-21

I somewhat enjoyed preaching this passage that recounts the steps of Rahab; and how God uses her to make an eternal impact on a generation. But I would have enjoyed sharing it much more had I better utilized my study time throughout the week. Unfortunately, my time was spent earlier in the week doing other things that vied for my attention and focus. Fortunately, God is faithful to His Word, and not my human deficiency.

This has been an unusual time in the life of our church and for me personally. Personally, I am trying to organize my own personal spaces in order to be more free to function and become more effective in all aspects of what I seek to accomplish in 2015. 2014 was a good year; but a rough year! I want to be more organized and functional this year. In addition to completing the 2015 Program Plan (Annual Booklet/Pamphlet that contains the pastoral vision, mission of our congregation, calendar, etc.), I am trying to work on submitting my application for Board Certified Chaplaincy while also submitting my doctoral application prior to deadline. Can you say “Torture”?

It is an unusual time for our church because growth, for us, is possible…but there are natural roadblocks to this growth, as with any congregation over a hundred years of age. At the end of 2014, I was faced with a real dilemma – do I continue to ignore the things that must be altered for the sake of unity and harmony (even though it isn’t growing us) or do I confront the challenges head-on and assume the position of Pastor, knowing God’s vision is our preferring future. Well…whatever else I know about myself, I know that if I continued to do the former, I would eventually surrender and move on. And that if I would do the latter, there would be possible backlash; but the end result would bring about the growth that God envisions for us, and a place I would enjoy pastoring all the more. Well…I’ve begun the process of the latter. Already, I have begun to see the positive effects, as well as the resistance to change. For me, this has been a time of growth for me.. I am naturally. A person who is intolerant of resistance and have never had a problem walking away and moving on. But in pastoring, especially pushing 40, I am moving to the point of not caring who doesn’t like a change when 1) it pleases God and 2) my heart is right. All in all…what we seek to do must always be in the best interest of Christ’s church; and with a love for souls, both inside and beyond the walls.

All in all, I am looking forward to seeing what God is up to; and what He is doing in the life of my family, the ministry He has entrusted unto me; and for the congregation of Mt. Salem. The best is really yet to come!

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