Kraig Lowell Pullam

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

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!

Sunday in Review

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Where in the world does the time go? 

While I haven’t blogged since February 25th, I have been enamored and enthralled in the busy-ness of March. From celebrating 5 years of pastoral ministry at Mt. Salem, doing some itinerant preaching, to sharing in the 30th pastoral anniversary of my father, to the demands of my immediate family and hospital chaplaincy…I am both thankful and glad that it is over! 

God is doing some great things in our church, in my ministry, my family and I am very grateful and humbled. Our church has, and continues, to go through various seasons of growth and growing pains since I arrived; and I was very pleased to have 2 ministers join our congregation. Before this past month, I had NO HELP, in that department. Their arrival and their presence is just one, of many, affirmations of God’s faithfulness when we obey His voice and follow His plan. God is awesome!

I’ve also been teaching and working through what we call our “Program Plan”. This is an idea I got from my pastor, Harvey Clemons, Jr., years ago, to provide our members with every dynamic and aspect of our church’s vision, mission, purpose, ministries, calendar, policies, accomplishments, etc. in the given and previous year. This year, our Program Plan primarily consists of bylaws, statement of faith and the statement on our view of marriage and the marital covenant.  I’ve been dealing with the controversial issue of homosexuality that I’ve entitled “Is it okay to be gay?”  Interestingly, this has sparked a wave within our congregation, community and city that I did not anticipate. Young adults are flooding our pews, seeking to hear what God’s Word, and this 37 year old preacher in town is talking about. 

On another note, I halted my preaching series that entailed a book I’ve been putting together; and preached a few messages surrounding Christ’s passion, crucifixion and resurrection. While wanting to begin a series on Giving, I came across a series of articles and outlines from Dr. Tony Evans dealing with Revival. After prayerful consideration, and the time needed to put together our series on giving, I took Dr. Evan’s articles and tried to “make it live”. 

Here’s the outline…

Title: Why We Need Revival 

Text: Psalm 85

C.I.T. (Central Idea of the Text): Remembering God’s favor in the past, prompts us to seek God for restoration and revival. 

I. Revival presupposes spiritual decay (verses 1-3)

II. Revival spells the need for spiritual reconnection (4-7)

a. Restore us (4-5)

b. Revive us (6-7)

III. Revival surpasses external change.

 IV. Revival steps in the land of God’s promises.

a. The manifestation of Gods glory (8-9)

b. The magnification of God’s goodness (10-13)

 

Three Sundays in Review…

IMG_5590My schedule has been hectic!

In fact, I’ve taken a couple of days (Tuesday & Wednesday), clearing my schedule completely, doing absolutely nothing.  In fact FURTHER…I’ve discovered I really have forgotten how to rest and just be.  I am keenly aware of the fact that changes are not only necessary and imminent, but anticipated.  While God has shown me that the reward for GOOD work is often MORE work; and my busyness is a direct result of His rewarding our faithfulness and the gifts He has instilled within us, I am not expecting my ‘busy-ness’ to discontinue in 2016… In turn, I am simply anticipating things to STREAMLINE!  Please pray for yours truly.  I really need it!

All of the above being explained, I am going to do something that is unconventional.  I want to give three Sundays worth of review, beginning with where I left off.

Here’s the outline for my message on:

Sunday, February 7, 2016
Title: Winning in Crisis

Text: Genesis 32:22-32

C.I.T. (Central Idea of the Text): At times, God takes us down in order to show us the way up.

I. God takes over when we get out of the way.
a. God’s breaking process reveals the power of our flesh. (v.25)
b. God’s breaking process reveals the power of God. (v.26)

II. God blesses clingy people.
a. We won’t cling until we are at the end of ourselves. (v.26, 27)
b. Even in clinging, we are prone to use God, not submit to Him. (v.29)
c. Clinging to God in weakness is the source of our power.

Sunday, February 14, 2016
Title: For the Love of God

Text: John 3:16

C.I.T. (Central Idea of the Text): God loves us before we win, and He communicates His love to us through His Son.

I. The Width of God’s Love “For God so loved the world…”

II. The Length of God’s Love “He gave His only begotten Son…”

III. The Depth of God’s Love “That whosoever believes in Him might not perish…”

IV. The Height of God’s Love “…but have everlasting life.”

Sunday, February 21, 2016
Title:
Handling Life Between Not Now & Not Yet

Text: Genesis 37:1-9; 18028

C.I.T. (Central Idea of the Text): Even in the waiting room, we must not allow injustice to stop us from being faithful to God.

I. Remember that who you are is not Connected to what you Have

II. Learn to handle it when what you see doesn’t match what God says

III. Always remember you have a secret weapon. “Judah”

Sunday in Review

2577006675_b5dd38dca6God be praised for a great Lord’s Day!

Our weekend began with a very powerful and encouraging time with our church family and guests at our 2nd annual prayer breakfast. The event is purposefully internal, with our members encouraged to invite their friends and family.  Our time together exceeded our first year, to my pleasant surprise.  My wife, D’Ani, spearheaded this event.  Simply put…she not only knows the expectations of her pastor; but she simply knows how to get things done, and people involved.  I am looking forward to God continuing to use her for great things in God’s work, particularly in the areas of empowering women and in prayer.

Here’s the outline for Sunday’s message.

Title: Feasting in Famine

Text: Genesis 26

C.I.T. (Central Idea of the Text): God’s blessing on your life is not the absence of problems, but the grace to handle your problems righteously.

I. Know that God is concerned about where you are (vv. 1-6)

II. Know where Nowhere Leads (vv. 7-17)

a. Listening to Bad Advice
i. Don’t listen to people who’ve never been where you’re going.
ii. Don’t listen to people who don’t know where they’re going.

b. Having no Real Direction

c. Following the Wrong Path
i. Following the Path of Least Resistance
ii. Following the Path of Sin

d. Turning Away from God’s Way

III. Know Where Faith Goes

a. There Must be a Dedication to the Will of God
i. A Place of Surrender
ii. A Place of Sacrifice

b. There Must be a Detachment to the Way of Man
i. Separation from Earthly Pleasures (v. 25)
ii. Concentration on Eternal Possessions

c. There Must be a Dependence on the Word of Life
i. We will face resistance (vv. 15-21)
ii. We can find refreshment (vv. 22-24)

Though I am disappointed in the overall delivery of the message, I realize it is primarily the fault of my lack of preparation for the message and its delivery  that being said, I am thankful for those who made decisions following the message.

We held our annual church meeting following our morning worship.  Overall, the meeting went well, serving as a time to both evaluate ourselves and encourage us as we move ahead.  It is a difficult endeavor to transition a 140+ healt old congregation who has experienced the challenge of the times and rocked by storms in her recent history.  I am convinced more than ever that the best days for Mt. Salem are ahead; and I am encouraged to know that our people are excited about what is to come!

 

 

 

Sunday Reflections

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God be praised for another Lord’s Day!

I continued our journey in Genesis 12 during our morning Worship hour. 

Here’s the outline for the message. 

Title: Avoiding Life’s Faith Reversals

Text: Genesis 12:10-13

C.I.T. : Avoiding unnecessary detours in the walk of our faith toward God’s promise. 

I. The Shortest Route is Not Always the Best Way (Vs. 10a)

II. Detours that are Not Divine Lead to Longer Journeys (Vs. 10b)

III. Quit Thinking Just About Yourself (Vss. 12-13)

A. God Uses Reversals for our Good (Vss. 14-19) 

1. To Direct (Proverbs 20:30)

2. To Inspect (Job 1:21)

3. To Correct (James 1:2-3)

4. To Protect 

5. Perfect (Genesis 50:20)

B. God Uses Reversals for His glory (Vs. 20)

I believe God blessed to proclamation of His Word. Thankful for the two (2) who responded to the message. 

As I try to press through the difficulty of the arduant task of preaching, meeting deadlines, completing our 2016 Vision Plan and writing responsibilities, I solicit your prayers. 

Ultimately, I count it an honor that I am able to do what I enjoy the most…  How was your week?  Sunday?  Please share your thoughts here, share with others and subscribe. 

I hope and pray you have an awesome week!

Blessings!!!

The Entitlement Cure

 
I’ve just finished reading John Townsend’s book “The Entitlement Cure”. After hearing and reading several stellar reviews, along with seeing the intriguing title, I wanted this book in hand. And while the subtitle sparked my interest more than the title, I knew I needed to read it…amid my difficulty in reading all things Townsend. I don’t know what it is; but I’ve always found the writings of John Townsend a chore and bore…to the extent of having to play music in the background not to fall asleep. Admittedly, I realize this is an unfair criticism; and something I would hate for anyone to say about my writing. After all, Townsend is a well-respected author and the co-mastermind behind New York Time’s bestselling “How People Grow”, a book I have used during my days of Christian Education in our Book Club. The fact is…Townsend is not a wordsmith. But getting beyond the style, there is substance couched in “The Entitlement Cure.” Therefore, I wouldn’t 1) Discard this book as irrelevant 2) Misdiagnose this book as a prompt of any political propaganda 3) Write off this volume as being unworthy of investment. 
“The Entitlement Cure” addresses a prevailing problem that now infiltrates every vital organ in relational life as we’ve come to know it. Whether it is in the church, marriage, home-life, work-environment…Townsend asserts that we are all infected by the disease of entitlement. In fact, entitlement is a byproduct (well, he shows how it pre-dates human creation) of man’s fall in the Garden of Eden. Townsend contends that entitlement is the belief that “….I am exempt from responsibility and I am owed special treatment…”, and that the problems in human society stem from this crippling disposition. In this volume, the author not only analyzes, but also speaks to both the culprit and enablers of the entitled on how to jettison this attitude of being special, being owed, refusing to take responsibility and blaming others.

Hitting at the core of the book, I realized I actually love Townsend’s style of writing! Addressing the relational patterns that drive entitlement (Chapter 2), he gives the practical markers of how we often feed the entitlement monster and thereby foster attitudes of entitlement (example: praising what takes no effort; praising what is required; praising what is not based on reality; etcetera). Unfolding five principles that can restore the problem ALL of us have with entitlement (some more than others.) While all five principles are of notable mention, I do think one of the components outlined by Townsend is how denial, perfectionism and narcissism attribute to the pressure, stress and emptiness that accompany their intended. Entitlement limits our good and our growth, according to the author. I do agree! 

One of the very central themes in this volume is Townsend’s description of feeling deserving to taking responsibility. He says that there is a right way to deserve and there is a wrong way to deserve; and explains how responsibility is not only right, but the practical ways to assume responsibility (Chapter 8). One of the things I like is Townsend’s conventional use of what he calls “NHT”. In short, this means “Next Hard Thing.” Townsend argues that our NHT is the choice we all need to make that moves us beyond the difficulty. In a real sense, what separates the good from the great, the best from all things average…is the ability and willingness to move past the proverbial areas of discomfort. According to the author, this requires 1) Carving out time 2) Going against the flow of life 3) Going against other’s expectations 4) Starting a ground zero (ie – “at the bottom”), etc. In this recourse, there are two (2) specific dynamics I would like to spotlight here in conclusion. One is saying when you are wrong (Chapter 13) and facing the pain that gets you somewhere (Chapter 14). I think that these two chapters and dynamics are key to understanding Townsend’s entire point. 

In summary, I would suggest this as a read for anyone who is looking to practically stop being an enabler to those who are highly entitled; and as a practical guide to taming the entitled monster who lives inside of us all. I give the book two thumbs up; and a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10. I would also suggest this as a great read for parents, couples and church leaders. 

 

Chris Bailey’s ‘Productivity’

  
At the start of 2016, I think it is important to evaluate and explore the level of our productivity in any given arena. Chris Bailey does a stellar job of coaching his readers through such in his newly-released volume “Productivity.” In short, this volume is not your average spin on productivity. In a real sense, it is a practicum on how one can and should effectively master the use of their time and time.  

Bailey takes a year out of his young life to do an experiment on productivity. What he finds are some astonishing facts about himself, the human race and research that points to how we, as humans, can effectively make the best use of our time, energy and attention. Within the first section of his work, Bailey stresses the importance of discipline and focus by way of the use of meditation. Take note that this is not a Christian or Spiritual Book. However, Bailey highlights an essential element to not only being a person of character and faith; but being grounded requires a time of being centered and focused on the spiritual reality surrounding who we are. In my faith and the dynamics of spiritual formation, I consider this essential in how we work and serve in Christian ministry. As we set our priorities, we are then poised to work smart, knowing that all tasks are not created equal; and learn to identify what is most important. 

 

Bailey contends that productivity is about working deliberately and not, as he terms it, working on ‘autopilot.’ Working deliberately helps you and I to locate priorities in our work, to define the big picture of our tasks and to discern how best we can take control of the obligations at hand. The central pieces of this kind of drive are focus and discipline. As Bailey says: “…productivity has nothing to do with how much you do, and everything to do with how much you accomplish.” (12) Efficiency in our work is no longer enough; it is all about accomplishment. As a strong proponent of daily meditation, Bailey asserts that productive people not only manage their time, but they also manage their attention and their energy well. To this author, the three ingredients of productivity are time, energy and attention; and doing it deliberately and intentionally.  

 

A very important component in this volume is what Bailey terms our Biological Prime Time (BPT). He argues that, by taking a self-assessment in tracking the fluctuations of our own energy levels throughout any given day, we are then poised to take steps to becoming more productive, committing our high-impact tasks to our BPT. As the author stressed, productive people don’t just manage their TIME well; they manage their ENERGY and ATTENTION well. Interestingly, if I may apply this to the arenas of relationships or in ministry, we can typically scale our progress in any given relationship or in our spiritual growth in where we assign our energy and attention, as well as our time. In 2016, it should be a general rule of our proverbial thumb not to assign energy to non-impact influences, low-impact thoughts or mundane things that consume our attention. The key point is to spend your time more intelligently and to make every effort to “punctuate your productivity.” Generally, it is good to track our time; and, as Bailey contends, when we are aware of how we are spending our time, we are then prepared to make adjustments. I like that he not only gives us the what of maximizing the use of time (after all, most already know they need to manage their time more efficiently); but he walks the reader through the process of doing as such. As this is important to all persons in every station in life, it also applies to how we plan our study time in devotion/meditation, personal growth and time for sermon preparation. Knowing your strong points throughout the day allows you to appropriate and allocate your creativity, sharpness and even vulnerabilities, all that are needed.

 

The book consists of eight (8) sections. All of them have a different variable; but all of them are simply and overarching of one theme: controlling your mind; redirecting your attention; choosing what you give priority to; getting started on tasks and choosing where you will procrastinate. 

 

Overall, I think the book of overwhelmingly filled with practical principles and tools to prioritize and maximize our productivity; and thus becoming more effective in what we accomplish, short term and long term. Bailey gives a lot of information. I don’t think this book is for the faint of heart. In like manner, it is not an easy-read. However, on a scale of 1 to 10, I give this book a 7.5. Again…it is not your typical book on productivity. Therefore, I’d suggest giving it a read!

Sunday Reflections 

IMG_5586God be praised for a wonderful Lord’s Day!  The first Sunday of 2016 has come and it has gone. 

Overcoming several challenges and celebrating a few milestones, I am excited about what this new year has to offer. Whole o make no claims to know what 2016 entails, I am praying for a great year!

Here’s my outline… 

Title: Facing Life’s Defining Moments
Text: Genesis 12:1-9

C.I.T.: God uses unlikely people to faithfully demonstrate obedience in the face of life’s most defining moments. 
I. Life’s Defining Moments Are Bigger Than You (Vs. 1) “Abram”

II. Life’s Defining Moments Require Your Participation (Vss. 4-6)

III. Life’s Defining Moments Require Leaving Well Enough Alone (Vs. 1)

IV. Life’s Defining Moments Require Following Instructions Without Having Directions (Vs. 1) “Leave…I will show you…”

V. Life’s Defining Moments Require Leaving the Place Called Yesterday (Vs. 1) “Leave your father’s house”

I rushed my study during the course of the previous week. In addition, I didn’t commit the time toward the study of this text, as I should have. Because this is a part of a future publication, I will really need to work through it and get it right. While I was displeased with the overall delivery of the sermon, I believe God blessed the message and I am thankful for the 3 souls who made s decision. 

It is a privilege to serve in the capacity of a senior pastor; and to serve the people of God; particularly in sharing the Word of God. My prayer is that God would continue to bless the fruit of our labor, our local congregation and His work for His glory. 

How was your weekend & Sunday?  Thanks for visiting and reading my blog. I pray you have a great week!

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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?  

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