Kraig Lowell Pullam

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

Archive for the tag “preaching”

Sunday at Shiloh & Week in Review

God be praised for another Lord’s Day and another week of ministry. 

On Sunday, December 11th, I continued my exposition through Luke chapter 1.  Specifically, I made an attempt to cover Luke 1:38, 46-55
and used the title: “When Life Throws the Unexpected”.  Ultimately, I believe the Lord was pleased with my handling of the scriptures; and in turn, He smiled upon our time around His Word.  We are simply living in a time where the Preacher is not afforded the luxury of being sloppy with their treatment of the Scripture.  It must be cut straight, leaving the temptation to mishandle the communication of what God is saying and a cleaving to simply preach the text that we read. We are not called upon to smooth off the rough edges of God’s Word.  We are called, like salt, to pour it out and pass it on.  Since I am here, the Scripture admonishes is to preach 3 things: Preach The Word, Preach Christ and Preach the Gospel.

During the course of this past week, I have had a number of meetings that have been both challenging yet very encouraging. In many ways, I am seeing that Shiloh, as a whole, has a desire to move forward.  It is my job as Pastor, to not only affirm, insure and inspire us toward that end, but also to bear in mind that change (for anyone) can be challenging, emotional and difficult. It is Pastor’s job to relish the past, but he must remain sensitive; and provide a healthy balance or respect the past while prayerfully, gracefully and deliberately moving the ship forward. Thank God for my ministry at Mt. Salem and also my first job out of college, at Pleasant Hill in Houston. Like every facet of my life has played an integral part of where I am today, Pleasant Hill and my ministry at Mt. Salem…prepared me to be the successor of a giant in the faith to the likes of Albert E. Chew, Jr., and standing at the helm of one of the greatest and most prominent congregations in Fort Worth.  Please keep Shiloh MB Church in your prayers.  I’ll say this – I’m excited about 2017 in the life of Shiloh and in my own life personally. I remain prayerful and humbled that God didn’t forget about all of the lonely moments, sacrifices in ministry, the Church-hurt and my attempt to live an exemplary (not perfect) life in private and public.  I’m grateful. 

How has your week been?

Please lift my hometown of Corpus Christi in prayer. They are dealing with a water issue’ and are asked to refrain from the use of tap water. I am praying for them, along with the safety of people who are expeirenceing incement weather around our country’ and all of the homeless people who ha e no shelter. I pray everyone has an outstanding weekend!

Blessings!

Sunday Reflections

This past Lord’s Day I did something I’ve personally attempted not to do for maybe the past few years – I went into my archives and dusted off something old. Having been preaching now for over 22 years, being trained by my father and seminary to fully-write out my sermons from start to finish…I have a lot of manuscripts and a lot of notes! Further, when starting to preach in the early 90’s, many of my sermons are on paper and in files. I suppose I am telling my age! 
One of the first series of sermons I ever preached was in the Book of Nehemiah. Interestingly, I began preaching this series immediately following the attacks in New York following 9/11 (9/11/2001). Little did I know when preparing the series for an entire year before ever moving to Houston, the unfolding of terror that would hit America’s shores, and how the Book of Nehemiah would speak to the congregation that I would preach it to – Pleasant Hill Baptist Church of Houston. The series was rewarding to me personally and our congregation. The notes have blessed me throughout the years. D’Ani and I have been away for the past 2 weeks; and I literally enthralled myself in our time together. Before knowing it – Sunday was here; and I needed a message! 
I have personally been reading through the Book of Nehemiah; and the Holy Spirit seemed to impress upon me a need to start in Nehemiah chapter 1, verse 1. That is exactly what I did! While most of my sermons in Nehemiah are on paper; I was able to pull up my notes for chapter one. 

Here’s my outline:

Title: The Ministry of Holy Discontent

Text: Nehemiah 1:1-4

C.I.T. : God’s call to impact culture compels and solicits God’s people to move beyond mediocrity.

I. The Ministry of Holy Discontent is a call to Investigation (Vs. 2) “I asked” 

II. The Ministry of Holy Discontent is a call to Compassion (Vs. 4) “I heard” 

III. The Ministry of Holy Discontent is a call to Examination (Vs. 4) “I sat down…wept…mourned”

IV. The Ministry of Holy Discontent is a call to Conviction (Vs. 4) “I fasted…prayed.”

 God be praised for blessing our time together. Admittedly, I was tired. After having landed at 12:30am Sunday morning and arriving home an hour later…after finally making it to sleep; when I finally stood to preach, I realized it probably would’ve been a better idea to utilize one of our associates. Nevertheless, at the age of 37, God is teaching me that we LIVE and we LEARN; and this is what makes us wise. I also understand that a sermon doesn’t need to make us shout in order for it to contain substance. In this regard, I believe the Lord is well-pleased. 

How was your Sunday? I would love to hear from you. If this blog is a blessing to you, please subscribe and/or share with others. Blessings! -klp3

 

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”

John MacArthur’s Parables (Review)

imageThis week I got my hands on a copy of John MacArthur’s most recent volume on “Parables: The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told.” As is MacArthur’s trademark, this particular work of his is candid in style and thorough in content.

Essentially, MacArthur’s work in this volume is threefold: 1) Clearly present factions in Christ’s immediate culture that sparked His use of parables and its purpose; debunking the common notions of why Jesus used this form of teaching. 2) Show how Christ’s key parables are fleshed out in parable, explanation, purpose, point, culture and application. 3) Contend that the parables are tools with which Christ used to teach and defend the truth as a teller of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.

The above summary, in and of itself, seems difficult and complex. That’s because it is. There is nothing simple about MacArthur, in MY view. As with his preaching, like an Agatha Christi novel, if you miss a page, you may miss his point. But he does a stellar job of asking and answering: 1) What is a parable? and 2) How can we interpret the parables of Christ efficiently, effectively and correctly?

It is critical to note that MacArthur deflates the notion that Jesus used parables to make his teaching easy for all. MacArthur points out that this is not true. Jesus “tells” the story to reveal a doctrinal and eternal truth to those who received Him for Who He claimed to be; and to conceal this truth from those who would reject as an outcome of His judgment. Jesus did not, however, exalt the telling of a story at the neglect of doctrinal teaching. In Christ’s approach to communicating truth, as well as in His use of parables, He did not pit narrative against proposition or the story against doctrine, as if they were somehow mutually exclusive. It is clear, according to the author, that Christ uses this for a “telling the story” to enlighten those who have a heart of acceptance towards the truths of God, having the opposite effect on those who oppose and reject Christ. I believe MacArthur does a masterful job of underscoring that the milestone of Christ’s use of parables was fundamentally the assault against Truth. It’s culprit? The “Pharisaical Sabbath-enforcement squad” of His day. In Chapter 1, MacArthur classically communicates many insightful benchmarks in Matthew chapter 12 that ultimately spur this revolutionary and innovative approach to Christ’s preaching and His communication of the mysteries of the Kingdom.

What follows is an approach to Christ’s most prominent parables in a practical, scholarly and insightful style that is only characteristic of vintage John MacArthur.

Now, for a bit of critique. I love John MacArthur and his writings. But in this book, you sort of have to get where he’s going to get what he’s saying. As a fledgling scholar with degrees in Biblical Studies and Biblical Languages, I love him. As an honest layman with a c-average, he is hard for me to follow, on the surface.  If you couldn’t tell (as could I), even my summary bordered on the realm of being difficult to understand without a church encyclopedia. That was simply me trying to break down MacArthur complexity, to no avail.  Simply put, MacArthur is no Lucado or Swindoll or even (in my view) as simple to understand as a John Piper, at times. Now don’t get me wrong…if you can get beyond the scholarly highlights in chapters 2 through 10, you will find a GOLD MINE of preaching material, doctrinal nuggets and teaching points that will live and work well for teachers and students alike. That being said, this book (in my personal view) is not an easy-read; and not one you can speed-read through. I see it best as a volume one should read through slowly; develop a mental (or literal) file that can be used as a reference for future use when dealing with parables and illustrating the subjects/teachings/doctrines of [Receiving the Word, Discipleship, Justice and Grace, Neighborly Love, Justification by Faith, Faithfulness, Wisdom, Heaven and Hell, Persistence in Prayer.]

All in all, I would suggest having this book on one’s shelf as a handy reference in understanding the why, what and “aha” of Christ’s use of parables, and MacArthur walking you through the parables themselves. I give this book a 3 out of 5 stars for the layman; a 4 out of 5 for the scholar.

My take on Preaching & Invitations

 
Some time ago, I was preaching for a church in another city. After service, the host pastor invited several preachers to join us for fellowship at a nearby eatery. One of the pastors was a former seminary classmate of mine. I had preached for him and he, in turn, preached for me at my former church. I was amazed at how he had been able to grow his church and also quite impressed by the caliber of guest preachers he had invited through the years. One of those preachers I really admired greatly, and I had wondered if I could potentially have him to share with my fledgling congregation. He was in high demand as a speaker and preacher, and a successful pastor in his own right. I was amazed that my former classmate had been able to secure this nationally acclaimed preacher, year after year. He expressed to me that he simply picked up the phone, placed a call, invited this nationally recognized preacher, and he showed up. The conversation took an abrupt turn, however. My former classmate became irate, and began to scold this particular preacher. In essence, he expressed to me his disappointment that he had invited this prominent preacher for years, treated him well, exhausting every resource, year after year; but this prominent preacher had never invited him to come and preach for him, as well. Of course, I asked my former classmate if he felt it a cardinal rule to invite a preacher to his congregation when they’ve invited him. His answer was a clear and emphatic”Yes!” I respectfully disagreed; but he stood firm on his conviction. He, then, affirmed that he would never invite that prominent preacher back to his church again; and that he would move on to another preacher the following year. As I have checked, he has held to that promise. 

For years I’ve been fascinated with several views any given preacher will have regarding preaching and invitations to preach elsewhere. I wish to share a few of them here; with hopes it will either help some young preacher, or for someone to enlighten me on another perspective. Please note: these are just MY own views; and what I’ve gained through observations in ministry through the years from observing others like my father, pastor or mentors from near and afar. Take note: these are not rules…simply helpful hints that I think are often unspoken. 

1. Never Ask Someone To Let You Preach. 

Proverbs 25:7 says, “…it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.” If I can apply this truth to preaching, it is all the same. This is not an issue of vanity as much as it is a matter of respect. Many pastors love people; and it places an extra burden upon them when feeling they have to find a spot to put you in for preaching. Let him ask you! My wife grew up in Holman Street Baptist Church. I came across an old tape of hers where the late E. V. Hill was preaching there. In his sermon he said that he had called Pastor Manson Johnson and said he would like to come and preach. This shocked me… But then I remembered who it was: Dr. E. V. HILL!!! It is certainly not my intent to belittle anyone in ministry, but many of us have not yet reached the platform of the late E. V. Hill. It is best to allow our gift(s) to make room for us. Conversely, I get it. We want to preach! There are some places I’d love to stand and share God’s Word. But I would suggest that one resist the urge to go so far as asking others to preach. Our eagerness can come across as desperation.  

2. Never Feel that an Invited Preacher is Obligated to Invite You

Just because you’ve been kind enough to extend an invitation to someone else, doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is being unkind if they don’t invite you to them. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are less than able, can’t preach, didn’t treat them well, etcetera. I have friends with whom I’ve preached for whom I’ve not been able to have my way. There are always several factors. But never allow your reason for inviting someone to be an expectation of them inviting you. Never feel the pressure to invite someone just because you’ve been invited by them. This is an unecessary and unfair weight to have anyone carry. In a real sense, it is not fair to them; and it is not fair to you. 

It is best to follow the Holy Spirit regarding who He would have to share with your people, treat that person beyond fair if humanly possible, and pray for them as they go. That’s all. 

3. Don’t tell a Preacher You Will have him preach for you, knowing you don’t plan to.  

Admittedly, this was a problem for me when I began pastoring in my late 20’s a few years ago. 

Here’s what I’ve discovered. Many preachers take you literally. AND, they thought they heard you say next Sunday!!! I’ve told preachers “Man, I hope to invite you ONE DAY.” What they heard, “Doctor, I need you next month!” Don’t be like me. I’ve had to learn the hard way. If you have to bite your tongue, bite it off! Well, not really. But what you do not want to do is be that preacher who has 20 preachers saying you will call them and you only have 5 opportunities that need to be filled throughout any given year, and 2 of those are going to your associate ministers. This spells a problem. 

In summary, please know, I am in no way one of the aforementioned prominent preachers. Our lack of prominence makes us no less important to God, or our calling ineffectual. There are some who just have greater numbers and more notoriety. I simply consider myself a student of those who do it well and a fellow-traveler in ministry with those who are trying to get it right. Further, I am becoming more disturbed by the blatant wickedness & incessant debauchery I see in the world; and believe we as proclaimers of God’s eternal truths must strive to be sharper, wiser and more united than ever before. This spells, colors and fuels my ultimate intent: to be helpful as a preaching pupil & ministerial nomad. May this not only help us all; but also spark a healthy and wholesome dialogue. Please let me know your thoughts. And if you disagree with what I’ve shared here, I welcome your thoughts and comments. We are in this together!

Sunday Reflections

iStock_000001476421XSmall-320x212God be praised for a great meeting in the tabernacle on the Lord’s day!

After taking a break away from our exposition through the Psalms, I picked up where we left off and continued with Psalm 14.

This 2-week intermission was partially feeling a pastoral need to deal with internal matters within our church; and partially a difficulty and challenge in wrapping my homiletical hat around the 14th Psalm. I love exegetical work! Admittedly…there is the continual challenge of formulating the meaning of the text into a well-crafted sermon that lives in the practical ears of parishioners.

All in all….I just threw myself to the proverbial sharks, not wanting to delay another week. I’m glad I did!

Here’s my outline:

Title: Running Away From the God You Need
Text: Psalm 14:1-7
C.I.T. : While the entire human race rebels against God, the righteous long to see His kingdom established on earth.

I. The Folly Of Trying to Make It Without God
a. The World is Insane (vs 1a)
b. The World is Immoral (vs 1b)
c. The World is Impotent (vss 2-3)

II. The Response of God to Man’s Foolery
a. What Men Do
i. They never learn (vs 4)
ii. They never rest (vs 5)
iii. They never win (vs 6)

b. What God Does (vss 4-5)
a. He looks
b. He finds

III. The Joy of Trusting in God’s Loving Protection
a. For their salvation (vs 7a)
b. For their restoration (vs 7b)
c. For their celebration (vs 7c)

God breathed upon the message and I am thankful to have made it through. My goal is to make it to Psalm 15, and take a break to concentrate on working through a book I am trying to put together, in a series of sermons. Currently it is a composition of around 200 pages of full-page sermons of about 20 sermons I need to seriously edit, footnote, re-write and try on our people. I am believing it will ultimately bless our congregation and, in turn, bless others. With prayerful plans to begin doctoral work in July of 2016, I am hoping to have this done by the Spring of next year. I need every single prayer I can get.

In other news… My Cowboys finally win a game, after 7 weeks of losing without Tony Romo. I don’t know what’s worse – losing 7 games; or losing 7 games after a great season last year. I celebrate this current win!

How was your Sunday? Please take a moment to share your thoughts, subscribe and share this blog with others if it is a blessing to you.

Sunday Reflections

IMG_4699

This past Lord’s Day I pushed the pause button on the Psalms and took a look into the life of a seeming lunatic boy in the gospels, recorded in Mark’s gospel, chapter 9. This was primarily due to my struggling to finish my study of Psalm 14. The message of that Psalm is too important to deliver before it is properly prepared to be served to our people. Psalm, Mark 9 it was! The prodigal in me wanted to title the sermon one thing (“Get the Hell Out”); but my judgment took a much more practical and safe approach for a title (“Lessons From a Lunatic”). If I may be candid and honest…I felt I struggled through the message. It was not a shouting sermon…as not every sermon should be, especially for the pastor who preaches expositionally from one week to the next. It was quiet. Thankfully, a little growth plus being in preaching ministry since 1994, I could appreciate the quietness; but could also discern that they were listening. Towards the end of our invitation, one of our members came down and shared how the sermon was for her; and how it helped her. In my own mind, I was saying “thank you Lord. Atleast one got it. Please help me to work through Psalm 14 this week.” But a strange thing happened. Throughout the week, I have recieved calls and texts throughout the week, from members who have shared how they were helped by the message; and if it was recorded. I hope I am not vain enough to somehow feel the need to have everyone gawk over every word that comes out of my mouth during a sermon. I personally cringe (just being honest) when I hear preachers declare they “slay” the church or “kill” the house every time they stand. Really? That’s cool! I am really just in a season of my life where I am trying to get a handle of clearly explaining the meaning of the text before me; and prayerfully have celebration along the way. If I can somehow muster to construct a “stick” or a “stallion” of a sermon (without plagiarisisms) that can live in any pulpit, be published in writted form and stick to my memory…I am happy. This has been my goal during 2015; and I hope to continue this next year. My point of sharing this is simply to encourage those who grind in study and are diligent in sermon preparation; and who, like me, may lead smaller congregations – to keep going. Continue to remain faithful to the sound, systematic, God-breathed and Holy Spirit-empowering approach to biblical exposition; and just leave the results to Him.

Here’s my outline…

Title: Lessons From a Lunatic
Text: Mark 9:14-29
C.I.T.: Christ begins to transform life’s dark realities when we have reached the end of ourselves.

I. Connect With Someone Who Knows Where You Are
II. Christ Can Begin Where We End
III. Christ Confronts the Source, Not Just the Symptoms
IV. Choosing Faith & Changing Your Language (Prayer) Will Change Your Outcome

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

IMG_0329Well…God be praised for another day of celebrating the presence of Christ on the Lord’s Day!

April has been quite a busy month. Along with sports activities, D’Ani and I have both managed to remain occupied with the endeavors we’ve been assigned as stewards. Over the weekend, Jones High School of Houston (D’Ani’s alma mater), Class of ’95 celebrated their 20th class reunion. On Friday night there was a skating rink outing (for just alum, thank you Jesus…I’ve retired from skating!!!), a dance/banquet on Saturday and a worship service, followed by a picnic, on Sunday. Unfortunately, I missed it all. The only thing I could realistically attend (Saturday dance/banquet), became implausible due to a musical held at our church overseen by our Building Fund Ministry. While I’ve never been a partier, I have always loved to dance amid my lack of rhythm. I suppose it is my love for music! Nevertheless, much to my chagrin, D’Ani traveled there alone. Fortunately, she was not the only one whose spouse could not attend. During her event on Friday, I had the opportunity to watch a 20/20 interview on Bruce Jenner who openly admitted his desire to become a woman. Prayerfully, I hope to blog about this one day soon, Lord willing.

On Sunday, I continued to deal with the subject of forgiveness by exploring a single phrase and thought couched in Christ’s Model Prayer: Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. While it is my hope to one day preach a series on the entire prayer, I felt it befitting to share this scripture on the heels of the previous week’s exposition of the parable of the unmerciful servant.

Here’s the outline of my exposition…

Text: Matthew 6:12 Subject/Title: Overcoming the Grief of Guilt Big Idea: God’s forgiving grace towards us prayerfully compels us to let others off the hook.

Outline:

I. The Desire of Forgiving Grace “Forgive us our debts…”

II. The Danger of Forgiving Grace “…as we forgive our debtors.”

• The person who will not forgive, burns the bridge over which they themselves must travel.

Refusing to forgive:

a. Hurts the Savior 

b. Harms the saint 

c. Hinders the sinner 

d. Heartens Satan

III. The Demand of Forgiving Grace

1. Overcoming the Guilt Grief requires that we forgive freely

2. Overcoming the Grief of Guilt requires that we forgive fully

3. Overcoming the Grief of Guilt requires that we forgive FINALLY

IV. The Delight of Forgiving Grace

1. A cleansed spirit (Psalm 51:2)

2. A clear conscience

I enjoyed preaching this text!   Admittedly, I could sense a strong tension on the subject of forgiveness within our congregation the entire month, almost to the point of grieving my spirit. Looking back, I should have spent more time in prayer regarding my spiritual preparation and strength for this series. I conclude that there are a lot of unsettled issues within our congregation; and things that must be released. Of course, I have lived long enough now to know that there are personal issues of forgiveness that reside in the pews; but I also am aware that there are possibly continued and remaining issues with forgiveness within our church history and predecessors that also remain and linger. I am searching to discern which weighs heavily more upon our congregation. I’ve concluded that most of my struggle within ministry revolves around God’s people being unable to just let things go, personally and corporately, that God can move us forward.  I am seriously & sincerely praying for God to give continued patience because I often become agitated when forward progress is impeded by minuscule matters. I am praying that God would renew my strength and give me direction. Experience in pastoring has taught me that certain things are not my own vivid imagination or coincidental; but a hatchet that needs to be buried… I am ultimately praying for this area of need within our congregation.

I was glad to also journey to Gonzalez, Texas and share with one of the sons of our church who celebrated his 2nd year anniversary of pastoral leadership to the St. James Baptist Church. It was a blessing to share. I shared from Romans 1:8-15 and entitled the sermon “What to Do in the Meantime”.

All in all, I thank God for carrying me through the weekend and through another week.

I am reading through a book by Walter L. Liefeld entitled “New Testament Exposition”; and some excerpts through various volumes of “The Words of Gardner Taylor.”

The Houston Rockets have made it past round one of the 2015 NBA playoffs; and the Cowboys have selected Byron Jones (a cornerback from UConn) in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft. Great move!

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Sunday Reflections

IMG_0329God be praised for another memorable weekend and Lord’s Day.

On the heels of Spring Break, I’ve been glad to get back to a certain level of sanity. On Saturday, I was happy to attend a scholarship banquet of the Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. One of the honorees was my wife, D’Ani. Not only was it a blessing to have her honored on this affair; but to see several Pastor’s wives recognized during this event, including Zelda Johnson (the wife of Pastor Manson B. Johnson of Houston); it was an encouragement to see young people receiving scholarships to further their education in a context and surrounding of excellence and hundreds of people supporting this event. D’Ani has been a blessing to so many; and it is my continued prayer that God would continue to use her to touch the lives of others, including her patients, Christian believers, the unsaved and many others. I was also pleased to see a few of our members. Should they read this blog, I want to personally express my gratitude for the sacrifice and time committed to attend and show their support. You are a blessing!

I left that event and headed to take my eldest son Kai Livingston (who is now TWELVE-let the countdown begin) to a soccer game. They won, 7-2.

It has been a rough time for me for one reason – ALLERGIES! Nothing affects me like the changing from winter to spring. It never fails to touch me in a not-so-kind way.

Interestingly…I did not preach this past Sunday! While I am far from being a superb preacher (though I am striving to be better), it is rare for me to go a Sunday without preaching, unless it is my anniversary or I am on vacation. God has been kind to me these 21 years (I’ll write about that later) of preaching. At the Mt. Salem Church, we had a special treat for our Monthly Youth & Young Adults Sunday. Rev. Quincy D. Mosley is a very gifted and anointed proclaimer of God’s Word. Preaching since the age of six, a native of Corpus Christi (my hometown), a membership minister of my father’s congregation…I’ve been blessed the few times I’ve heard him share. He shared from Psalm 34, one of my favorite scriptures. Five of our young adults came forward! God be praised!!!

I was also able to attend and support the 5-year pastoral anniversary of one of my childhood mentors, Rev. J.R. Miller, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Pastor Miller is not only a gifted preacher, but an innovative pastoral mind who has been instrumental in my desire early in life to be a preacher who thinks and studies God’s Word. I haven’t always been the greatest supporter and encourager. But, the more I experience the loss of loved ones, the more my commitment to showing my love towards those who mean the world to me, strengthens.

At our church, this is the Month of Reconciliation and Forgiveness. This coming Lord’s Day, I am looking forward to having with us the New Light Baptist Church of San Antonio and Pastor Paul Wilkinson, Sr. as our special guest for our Family and Friend’s Day. I am looking forward to their being with us.

The Cowboys (my team all the way!) haven’t secured a running back; but Adrian Peterson is interested in possibly heading to Arlington. Of course, the Vikings are saying “not so fast!” While I would love to have him on our roster…the fact is, there are many running backs would prevail with the superb line the Cowboys have managed to put together. However, he’d be a great addition.

I am looking forward to beginning a teaching this Wednesday, Lord willing, on Forgiveness.

It is my prayer that my blogs serve as not only personal reflection and a tool to strengthen my writing ability; but most importantly to encourage others. I would love to hear from you and ask you to please subscribe to my blog. How was your weekend? Blessings!

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