Kraig Lowell Pullam

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

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Pastoring, Fathering…the Journey

Whenever I come to the end of another year, I often find myself in reflection.  Today, I came across some old emails and files from my first church, Cornerstone Baptist Church of Pearland.  As I began to reflect, as I sometimes do…I can have a mixture of emotions.  Most of them good, some not so good.  For the most part, I am the one who would take responsibility for the not so good parts.  Today…I likened my pastoral experience to my experience as a Dad.  I’ve pastored 3 congregations. I am the father to 3 sons.  My first church (Cornerstone) is somewhat like my eldest son Kai.  When I think about Cornerstone, I think of how (as with my son Kai) I didn’t know a thing about pastoring.  I was so green, naive, dumb and inexperienced.  As I look back and reflect, it is humiliating to even think of my silly ways.  Now for me, these foolish things did not consist of any kind of scandal such as indescretions, embezzlement and the like.  I refer to things like time management, dealing with people and their problems, pastoral care, communication, temperament, patience, financial decisions, diplomacy, leadership and the like.  Even in preaching – I go back and read some of my notes and ask, “Why did I say that?”  I remember once doing a series on relationships.  I discussed everything from Affair-proofing your marriage to Keeping the Fire in your marriage burning.  Sounds good?  Maybe… But I didn’t even think to consider having childcare available so that the adults could safeguard their children from the topic.  Just dumb.  It sounds very logical now; but I didn’t learn the lesson, save through trial and error.  I could go on and on.  But in the same way, I parallel my first church with my eldest son, Kai.  I was 28 in 2005 when I began pastoring my first church; but I was only 24 when D’Ani gave birth to Kai, my and our first child.  We had been married only 3 years (at 21), and here I was in seminary, barely able to support a wife; and here is Kai.  I fell in love with him at first sight.  But I had no idea what to do beyond that.  Some of it came naturally, because I had a great example in my father, and D’Ani seemed like a pro.  But I was as nervous and confused as all get out.  Kai had nothing to reference, so he didn’t know any better.  But I was struggling so much with a job on staff at a church, trying to make it through seminary; and learning how to manage finances as the head of a household…I look back and wish I had savored more moments with my boy, when it was only he and I.  Again…it may not have been anything dramatic (such as abuse, neglect, etc), but it was big to me.  Now that he is 13, I look back on that time, as I do my first church…and know that if I knew then what I know now, I would have been a better pastor and father to them both.

In 2011, I became the pastor of Mt. Salem.  Boy…that was a sweet time.  Seminary was over.  I’d survived the rough years of trying to learn Cornerstone.  I was completing a Chaplain residency at Harris Health, in Houston; and finances were quite a bit better.  In fact, the year was so good, we traveled to Disney World in the summer with the boys, and then to the Chicago-area for my brother’s installation and then to Hawaii in the fall.  The financial struggles, as it relates to church-life, were somewhat in our rear view mirror.  I shifted from doing a little bit of everything at Cornerstone (cleaning, running off the bulletins, etc) to Mt. Salem, where they had learned to function a year without a pastor.  Mt.  Salem continued to grow steadily; they were okay with my commute; D’Ani was just fine with my commuting there for mid-week; the boys saw it as a field trip on Sundays; and everyone was happy.  Because of my trials and errors in trying to learn a new church and young people at Cornerstone (predominantly young adults), my greatest joy and challenge was learning a 140-year old congregation like Mt. Salem.  Because Mt. Salem had been through her own storm before I arrived, and I had  challenges at our first church – we pretty much appreciated one another.  Mt. Salem was simply a breath of fresh air.  I cannot think of a time I pulled up to Mt. Salem and didn’t smile.  I loved it; and fell in love with the people.  I was 33…so a little more laid back than I was at 28.  Because I was so ambitious and the young adults in my first church had much more energy, I appreciated the laid back persona surrounding Mt. Salem.  I absolutely loved it.  I literally saw how everything I had experienced at Cornerstone, prepared me for Mt. Salem.  Of course, like any older congregation, there were challenges with moving the church forward…  But I have always assumed I was pastor; and because of my wisdom (along with being more patient than in my 20’s) there were things I was just not led to do or change.  I now know why-that wasn’t why God called me there!!!  Ultimately, I would not have even appreciated Mt. Salem, had it not been for my first church.  In like manner, when D’Ani gave birth to Kaden (our second-born son), we were 28.  I had started back at seminary after taking a semester or so off.  We were still fledgling as a church, at Cornerstone.  But overall, things were okay.  I’d learned a little bit about fathering, so Kaden had it a little better.  Of course, Kaden was a force to be reckoned with; and still is.  His temperament was nothing like Kai’s.  Kai needed only a television or a video game.  His love language was and is gifts.  You can put him in a room with things or gadgets and he was fine.  Kaden?  He needed someone in the room with him; and his love language was and is quality time.  Just like any given church, every child is different.  And in like manner, I learned things with Kaden that were diametrically opposite of what I learned with Kai.  Fortunately, all of these things worked together in harmony, to simply make me a better father and spiritual leader.  

Now…early in 2016 I was happy.  I had absolutely no complaints, on my end.  Other than the wear and tear on my vehicles, we were okay.  Unlike 2011, in 2016 I was no longer a resident at Harris Health, but a Staff Chaplain with a nice salary and full benefits and retirement.  One of my uncles had mentioned to me an opening at Shiloh in Fort Worth, a church I knew nothing about.  I had only known of their pastor, Dr. Albert E. Chew, Jr.; and had met him only once when I was a teenager at a winter board meeting; and knew of his recent retirement and passing.  My uncle said that it was ‘a great church’ and suggested I send in my resume and biography, something I didn’t do often (Mt. Salem nor Cornerstone ever saw a resume!).  I did; and left it at that.  After all…in some sense, I had sort of ‘arrived’: Nice incomes, D’Ani with a great job that she loved; wonderful anniversary every March; and a church family that we loved.  All was well!  Fast -forward, after a national search…I was eventually called to Shiloh in Fort Worth.  Totally unexpected!!!  And I honestly believe that this is my last stop.  I’m not moving anymore…Lord willing!  I’ve discovered that SHILOH IS THE GREATEST CHURCH IN THE WORLD (no joke); and we have fallen in love with the people!!! Now that I am done with seminary, am 38…been married for almost 2 decades, pastoring over a decade and the like – I am much more patient, considerate, pastoral, responsibile and the like.  I can see, just as before…how the young days of Cornerstone and the experience of Mt. Salem balanced me out to lead the people of Shiloh over the next several decades.  Like Shiloh, our baby Karter was totally unexpected.  Between Kaden and him, we had lost 2; and had concluded we were probably done.  We were thanking God for 2 healthy, vibrant and smart boys!  But God had other plans!!!  We can pinpoint the days of conception with our first 2; but Karter?  I just know he is mine; and he wasn’t planned!  

Here is why I’m sharing all of this.  As I look and see how affectionate, patient, considerate and expressive I am with Karter, I can sometimes be taken aback and saddened by how I was a little rough, non-affectionate, inpatient or non-expressive with Kaden and more with Kai or with Cornerstone and Mt. Salem.  Life has just slowed me down.  I’m a better man now. I’m more prayerful. I’m in less of a rush.  I’ve learned what can wait and what cannot.  I’ve learned how to choose my battles and when to proceed with caution.  I’ve learned how to give people a hug and tell them I love them and when to wisely tell a person who is toxic in our church to shape up or get out.  I’m literally a sharper cat.  And then I think – it was all of that (including Kai, Kaden, my losses, struggles in seminary and the like) which prepared me for who I am NOW, in this very moment!  And then I’m grateful…that while I think I’m getting older (almost 40)….God used all of that and has brought me to a special place in my life at 38.  Romans 8:28 comes to mind – that God uses all of these things as a ‘working together’…  Nothing is wasted; and God can use even our trials, tests and experiences as treasure to propel us to our next level of purpose, greatness and His pleasure. 

It is my hope and prayer that those who read my blog can see the good that emanates out of all of the trials of your life, and specifically 2016.  That when He brings in the unexpected, we will not only appreciate what He brings; but rejoice over what He gave us before – and know that it was all apart of His ultimate plan. God bless you and keep you.  I am convinced that, if I do my part, the best I is yet to come.  I pray and believe the same for you!

My Dad’s Day of Birth!


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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Reflections

God be praised for another day in the presence of God in corporate worship on the Lord’s Day! 

After a long and tedious week, I had the joyful privilege of having my uncle, Rev. Lloyd Anthony Pullam, with us at the Mt. Salem Church to share in the preaching of God’s Word. What a treat! Uncle Lloyd is my favorite uncle. He is my Dad’s eldest brother; and he has always been a mainstay for myself and my ministry. Though he has lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area since I’ve been able to recall, he would always show up and be marked present at my first sermon, wedding, pastoral anniversaries, etc. 

 

Back in 2010, Uncle Lloyd had a stroke that affected him physically and eventually led to his retiring after 26 years of pastoral leadership at the historic St. Emmanuel Baptist Church in Denton, Texas. Literally, I wouldn’t be married to D’Ani today without him (Long story!). While his stroke affected him physically, it did not affect his mind or his preaching. So, he came and he preached! The title of his message was “The Unfinished Business of the Church”. His texts: John 17:1-4; John 19:30; 2 Timothy 4:7; Matthew 28:18-19. We were blessed as a result of his sharing in the faithful preaching of God’s Word. I thank God for him; and his willingness to come and share with the Pastor and People of our congregation. 

 

Seeing the after-effects of my uncle’s illness served as an eye-opener and awakening for me a few years ago. Being a pastor, in and of itself, is a loathsome task in regard to the stewardship of one’s body and health. In the church, particularly in the south, parishioners of various cultures wouldn’t give the preacher much money; but they would give him a plate of food and bake him a cake. While we live in a different time, that tradition has continued in any given local church. And while partaking of some of these ‘treats’ aren’t off of the proverbial table to many pastors; simply put – eating whatever you want to eat AND not taking care of one’s self is a cardinal sin. I have and am learning to accept what our wonderful parishioners give, eat a little and share the remainder. Living with a wife who will not eat sweets, and sons who have yet to appreciate a pound cake or peach cobbler from scratch – it only invites danger to bring these things home with me! As a result of this lifestyle change, I have seen how far I’ve come, and how far I have yet to go. I owe it to giants in the faith, as my father, uncle, wife, sons and others to look after myself, protect my “temple”, guard what comes in and goes out and improve the quality of my life for the long-haul . That being said, I only hope to be as much of a blessing to these ‘giants’ who’ve been such a blessing to me; and enhance their life as they’ve enhanced my own.  I believe my Uncle’s story is not over. I am looking forward to him utilizing the gifts God has given him to write, publish and contribute his knowledge and experience working in Christian Education, College/Student Ministry and Music Minsitry to assist local congregations. 

 

I am looking forward to sharing on the last Lord’s Day of this year. It is always a struggle in preparing to preach the last Sunday of the year, for me. I am always pressed for time, doing last minute shopping, performing my list of honey-do’s, as well as looking after little ones who are out of school for the remaining year. Now it is Monday; and I am still grappling with various texts. If you’re reading this, please keep me in your prayers, as I will for you. I would love to hear from you, read your thoughts and ask that you share this blog with someone who would be helped. May you have a great week, celebrating the birth of Christ!

 

Reflections!

imageGod be praised for a wonderful week of God’s good, grace, faithfulness and favor!

This past Lord’s Day, I had the opportunity to preach the Youth Day at the historic New Light Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. During my formative years, I would hear my grandfather, Dad and preachers who would talk about the late, great Dr. P.S. Wilkinson, Sr. For years, I had tried to attain a copy of his publication, “Pilate’s Judgement Hall” to no avail. Last year, my aspirations became realized. It is, by far, one of the most valuable books I have in my library. Never did I think I’d be preaching there! The congregation is now lead by Dr. Wilkinson’s grandson, Paul Wilkinson, Sr. He is doing a phenomenal job carrying on the legacy and leadership of this great congregation and family. It was an honor just to share, especially for a Youth Day! I am 36; and I typically get invitations now for revivals, annual days, workshops, pastoral days, etc. It is refreshing to get an occasional invitation to preach a Youth Day! While some preachers my age who are pastors could possibly see this as a step back, I see it as an affirmation of my youth! I love it! I actually shared a very modified version of a text I’ve preached before from Psalm 118 regarding praise to the Lord. In the first few verses, I see an affirmation that God’s people are called to praise Him because of 1) Who He is 2) What He has and 3) What He does.

During the week, I also had the opportunity to share in revival at the Zion Fair Baptist Church in Sinton, Texas. It was an enjoyable time of fellowship; and also gave me the opportunity to be home in Corpus Christi, Texas (my hometown) for a few days. I believe I shared what the Lord placed upon my heart; and in dealing faithfully with God’s Word, God in turn, was pleased. A special thanks to Pastor Alton Coleman for the opportunity to come and share with this precious congregation and people.

I am looking forward to being in my own pulpit this coming Lord’s Day. This is the Month of Prayer at our church; and my hope is to continue on prayer this Sunday.

My schedule has been so hectic… I am looking forward to working through the finalization of my Ph.D. application and also begin the process of my Board Certified Chaplaincy. With my schedule, I am convinced that God has given me the best wife in the world! There is no possible way I could be half of who I am were it not for her support, sharing the load and being present when I can not be. Whether it is following up with a sick member, attending an event, praying and listening to one of the young girls in our congregation….it makes life and ministry so much easier. I really believe that the best is yet to come!

In other news, I am not happy about basketball season and the fact that football season is over. Really looking forward to the fall!

What are your thoughts? How was your week?  Please take a moment to subscribe to my blog and also share with friends, family and coworkers.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday Reflections….3 weeks!

It has been a few weeks since my last blog. I am glad to be back! My schedules in the pastorate and chaplaincy have both kept me pretty occupied. The most significant change has been to increasing and refining the moments I am spending with my immediate family (wife and boys) and my study (devotional, leisure and sermon preparation). Going into the most recent conference (aforementioned in my last blog), I wanted to walk away with some practical ways to simply learn quicker and move toward sermon construction at a faster pace, until it is clear and precise. This consumed much of my time. Taking the past 21 years of preaching models, habits and experience and refining my craft to suit me at the age of 36 has been both refreshing and fulfilling.

Since my last blog, I’ve continued my series in the Book of Acts at our church, Mt. Salem. On the first Sunday of October, I shared Peter’s 1st Sermon on the day of Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2:14-41. The title of the sermon was, “Let Me Explain.” What sparks Peter’s sermon at Pentecost was God’s leading to debunk the notion that what occurred in the opening verses of Acts 2 were fabricated results of drunkenness. But he doesn’t spend all of his time addressing false accusations, and neither should we. He simply verifies what happens in scripture and then makes a rush to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Peter is masterful when it comes to modeling the preaching craft; and the study of the passage really presented an opportunity to plainly share the Gospel story and message. God be praised for the souls who were added!

The following Sunday, I shared “The Marks of a Spirit-Filled Church”, from Acts 2:42-47. Again, the Lord was kind to us! Admittedly, this was not a feel-good message; but challenging to both myself and our congregation. The thing about preaching one text, and continuing with the next verse the following week; and simply explaining what the text says and means….really forces the preacher to deal with what is there, whether good or bad. I am convinced that this not only grows the preacher tremendously, but it will in turn stretch and grow the congregation in the maturing and application of God’s Word. Again, souls were added! To God be the Glory!

This past Lord’s Day, I had the privilege of preaching for one of the historic congregations in my hometown, Corpus Christi, Calvary First Baptist Church, for their Choir Annual Day. The Pastor there is Dr. Charles E. Richardson, Sr., who is good friends with my father; and has served this congregation for quite a number of years now. Calvary First is the church where my parents grew up; and also where they met. Many great preachers and mentors of mine, grew up and began preaching at Calvary First, including J.R. Miller, Cleophus LaRue, my uncles, Monty Francis and Lloyd Pullam. It was a joy to preach there on a Sunday morning. I shared from Psalm 118:1-6, “Every Reason to Praise the Lord.” Pastor Richardson is a dynamic preacher in his own right; and so I was humbled not only that he asked me to come and share, but for the warm reception to my preaching and our congregation.

I try to read one book a week. This has been my practice for some time. I was astounded to learn that Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Seminary, reads 12 books a week. I’m not believing that! But okay… I’ll stick to my one book a week. On good weeks, I can read 2, especially if I am not preparing for a sermon. On vacation, I can read a little more. But most recently, I read a book last week entitled, “Singing in a Strange Land”, by Nick Savatore. It is a book chronicling the life of Rev. C.L. Franklin, the father of Aretha Franklin. I would encourage any preacher to read this biography. It is insightful, interesting and even enriching.

It is my prayer that all who read are blessed by these blogs. I am praying how to better utilize and maximize this medium, and also to best encourage Christian leaders, pastors, ministers and laypersons. I would love to hear from you and also encourage you to subscribe. How are you? How was your Sunday? Blessings!

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