Kraig Lowell Pullam

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

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Let’s Talk: Communicating with God through Prayer

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

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

How do I pray?

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

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

Why should we pray?

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

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

Look at these scriptures:

Psalm 55:22 – Throw every burden upon God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Devotion’ from Valley of Vision

God of my end, it is my greatest, noblest pleasure to be acquainted with Thee and with my rational, immortal soul; it is sweet and entertaining to look into my being when all my powers and passions are united and engaged in pursuit of Thee, when my soul longs and passionately breathes after conformity to Thee and the full enjoyment of Thee; no hours pass away with so much pleasure as those spent in communion with Thee and with my heart.

O how desirable, how profitable to the Christian life is a spirit of holy watchfulness and godly jealousy over myself when my soul is afraid of nothing except grieving and offending Thee, the blessed God, my Father and friend, whom I then love and long to please, rather than be happy in myself! Knowing, as I do, that this is the pious temper, worthy of the highest ambition, and closest pursuit of intelligent creatures and holy Christians, may my joy derive from glorifying and delighting Thee. I long to fill all my time for Thee, whether at home or in the way; to place all my concerns in Thy hands; to be entirely at Thy disposal, having no will or interest of my own. Help me to live to Thee for ever, to make Thee my last and only end, so that I may never more in one instance love my sinful self.

The Makings of Ministry in Pastoral Life

Quite a few years ago, I was riding in the car with my parents.  I wanted them to hear a new r&b song from a ‘hot new artist’ by the name of Musiq Soulchild.  This song, entitled ‘Just Friends’ echoed a subtle sentiment of admiration of a guy’s feelings for a young lady.  Needless to say, my Dad was unimpressed and unincumbered by my interest.  Later my father, who is a music lover at heart, pulled out an old album of Curtis Mayfield and began to play for me ‘The Makings of You.’  The song began to describe every ideal of the perfect life at it’s finest, surrounded by aesthetic beauty, roses, well-behaved children and the like….and then he tells the object of his affection, ‘These are the makings of you…!’  Admittedly, I was completely floored and this began my quest of further learning the art of ‘real music.’

As I reflect, I cannot help but wonder – what are the makings of ministry?  Further, I wonder – what are the makings of ministry in Pastoral life?  The ministry of the Pastor is more than meets the eye.  Jeremiah 3:15 says, “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”  God says that He will do the giving while shepherds are given the responsibility of doing the feeding.  When one looks at the dynamics of a culinary artist, many of the details of their works is behind closed doors.  We may often enjoy the products of their due diligence; but we often fail to see their labor, toil and endeavors.

As stated before, we celebrated 3 years together as Pastor and People at the Mt. Salem Church.  To date, this has been the greatest outer expression of love from a congregation I’ve felt as a Pastor.  That being said, we had a few challenges with initial renovations of walls in our sanctuary.  In the past 48 hours, I have privately called these walls, ‘The walls of Jericho!’.  On the day prior to my anniversary celebration, I went through the ordeal of how to work around these incompletions and, in my ‘perfectionist’ complex, I thought I was going to fly to the moon.  In addition, our toilets were not flushing at the church.  At some point, I simply prayed, gave it over to God and dealt with what I could.  Amid my own private realities (one of which was picking up my ‘anniversary suit’ from my suit guy of over 10 years and for the first time I didn’t try on the suit-since they always get it right-it was wrong….pants were 2 inches TOO LONG!  Not good…)  I got through it.   I went to bed Saturday night at peace and confident in God’s faithfulness.

Needless to say God blessed the entire day!!!  Amid all of this….I still found myself dealing with the usual joys and sorrows, twists and turns of pastoral life.  In the midst of great celebration, I had to contemplate how to deal with the issues of the ‘Jericho Walls.’  In the midst of great celebration, I asked one of my beloved members how they were doing and how a recent doctor’s appointment had gone; only for that member to inform me that cancer was in her blood; and while her doctor is saying it is ‘non-aggresive’, it can turn ‘aggressive’ at any moment.  In the midst of this, I closed out the day hearing from one of my young members (who was instrumental in launching our praise team and re-shaping certain aspects of our worship service) he will be transferred to Fort Worth, Texas later next month with his job.

These are the makings of the ministry of pastoral life.  This happens every week; and often every day of the week.  Having the heart of a Pastor is essential in leading God’s people.  If we fail to love God’s people, we will fail to feed them.  And there is nothing more detrimental than a starved, malnourished, neglected and abused flock.  If you are a Pastor and reading this, I pray for you daily.  If you are a layperson, PLEASE, pray for your Pastor.  Your Pastor may not be perfect; and you may disagree with some of the moves made in the ministry or vision of Christ’s church; but please pray for your Pastor.  My experiences of this past weekend, for me, simply point to the reality that I am where God wants me; and where He has planted me.  I’m loving this ride; and looking forward to what God will continue to unfold along the way.  The BEST is truly YET to come!!!

Three Years, and counting….

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This Sunday marks three years of pastoral service for me at the Mt. Salem Baptist Church of Victoria.  These few years have been a great time of growth, development, intensified joy, healing, maturity and clarity of my call.

When coming to Mt. Salem, I was in a strange place in ministry and in life.  The church I had founded in Pearland (Cornerstone Church) was fledgling with gradual growth.  Starting in 2005, my Cornerstone congregation, in mid-fall of 2010, made the decision to move our primary service to Saturday afternoons.  Looking back, this should have been more of a time of 1) prayerful searching and divine direction rather than a quest to be creative or relevant in a Houston suburb and 2) I should not have asked for a vote; but as the Founding Pastor, I should have made the decision (as was my instinct) to hold the course.

Needless to say, our beloved congregation made the decision to move to Saturdays beginning in November of 2010.  Within a few weeks, I was asked to preach for a congregation that 1) was a congregation in the association where my father serves as Moderator and 2) a congregation I had recommended they extend a call to one of my friends.  The minister in charge asked if I would be a candidate, to which I respectfully declined.  I had no intentions of either leaving my congregation and certainly no plans of pastoring there, to be honest.  The minister said, will I come and just preach.  I informed him that my plan was to be out of my own pulpit the weekend following Thanksgiving, and that would be the only time I could even consider coming.  To make a very long story very short, I preached that Sunday.  In a shear attempt to convey I had no intentions, to myself and I guess to God, that I would not be going there, I suppose I did at least two things to prove my own point.  For one, I didn’t bring my family!  My wife wanted to travel with me; and the boys would’ve loved the journey.  But I asked her and them to stay behind…so that no one would get any ideas.  Also, I preached a sermon out of Philippians 1:12-19 entitled, ‘Knocked Down but not Knocked Out!’  This congregation had been through quite a big storm, were shocked by it’s devastating effects, and it was very public and embarrassing, to say the least.  I was simply there (so I THOUGHT!) to give them a ‘pep talk’ – to let them know they could ‘fall forward’ and use the experience (without going into details regarding their experience) to their advantage, as Paul, to further the gospel.  Unfortunately….God moved and smiled on the message!  I was asked to come back in late December, as I recall; and then asked to serve as Pastor in January of 2011.  Both congregations knew that I would continue to serve both congregations (as crazy as that sounds).  After all, I would be doing a service at Cornerstone on Saturday, and at Mt. Salem on Sundays.

Two things happened.

First, I am unfortunately, very focused and loyal.  Therefore, it became a challenge for me to divide my time and stretch to the level of leading two different congregations.  While some Pastors do it, I felt like I was cheating on one for the other.  Second, we were discovering the ‘Saturday thing’, even prior to my being called to Mt. Salem, just wasn’t going to work; especially as the primary worship experience.

Maybe you can see my new dilemma and ordeal.  I am now at a new congregation with whom I’ve made a commitment, preparing for an installation.  This new congregation has already been scathed by leadership.  On the other end of the spectrum, I have my ‘baby’ whom I love; and it has proved more effective to move back to Sundays.  Yes….hindsight says, ‘Well, why did you even say yes to the new church?  Didn’t you think you all would go back to Sundays, at some point?’  Yes, in hindsight….

What in the WORLD am I about to do?  It was one of the most difficult and trying times in my life.  But I knew, in my instinct, what I was going to do: I’M LEAVING MT. SALEM.  I had a letter written out to send to the oldest deacon in the church.  It was a letter addressed to him, Cephus Clifton, to inform him that I had a change of heart; and I would not be able to continue as Pastor-elect.  But….I never sent the letter.  For one, God never told me to send the letter.  And I couldn’t put on God that was a mere instinct driven by my own proclivities and desires.  In addition, I somehow felt in my heart that I couldn’t abandon the people of Mt. Salem.  So I prayed; and did what I felt was the right thing to do.  I prepared to transition our congregation with a new leader, who happened to be one of our associate ministers; and that I would attempt to teach to them during midweek services.

But many things, I reflect, made this move ineffectual.  First, for years, the people heard MY vision.  Even the man I was attempting to move to my role was adamant about my remaining there.  Another thing is that those who had bought into the vision, those whom I had baptized, wed, trained, etc. began to feel abandoned by their leader.  But I was resolute in keeping my word to the people of Mt. Salem and Victoria, at that point.  Eventually, after about a year, Cornerstone disbanded.  Even now, it hurts to even write that.

My wife and I have miscarried twice.  And I can say with all my being that hearing of Cornerstone shutting it’s doors felt the same and probably worse.  It hurt; and still hurts!

That being said, I am somehow convinced that God led Mt. Salem and I together as Pastor and People.  I lost my ‘baby’, but God has given me a ‘family’ in the people of Mt. Salem.  Sometimes I have gotten frustrated….there are so many differences between pastoring a church your founded and a congregation that is 140 plus years of age.

But amid all of the challenges, there have been some tremendous rewards.  I’ll never adequately describe the sorrows I’ve felt with my loss (especially as it happened the way I’ve described), but I will also never adequately explain the unusual joy and peace I’ve enjoyed in this new field.

I have no idea how God will continue to unfold either my story or the story of the great congregation of Mt. Salem, but I am committed to this work; and I will continue until God says, ‘Well done!’

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