It’s right there in the red letters: “That my joy may be in you …”
This is a statement of fact made by Jesus Himself, and yet I’ve encountered so many pastors who haven’t experienced joy in a long time. The man behind the pulpit carries both pastoral and personal burdens, and it can be overwhelming. What once was a thrill becomes drudgery, and one day, pastor, you realize you’ve lost your joy. I know the feeling. Been there.
While I was a pastor, I signed articles and letters with the salutation, “It is a joy to be your pastor.” Once, however, the slightest typo slipped through — a single letter — and communicated something completely different: “It is a job to be your pastor.” Continue reading “Pastor: Nine Steps To Recovering Your Joy”→
There is a fog of divisiveness settling across the Southern Baptist Convention and it is spreading like a poisonous gas, and we must address it rather than allow it to linger and destroy our Great Commission calling.
There is a litany of issues causing the increasing tension that seemingly permeates every conversation taking place across our denomination and we no longer have the luxury of pretending there isn’t a problem. There is tension between national entities and state conventions, between Calvinists and non-Calvinists, between entity leaders and Southern Baptists, and the list goes on. It seems there is division almost anywhere two or more are gathered with differing opinions. If you doubt the veracity of my comments, check the news. Southern Baptists are making more headlines these days for our in fighting than for being known as a people of grace and peace sharing the gospel with a dying world. Continue reading “A Plea for Unity and Cooperation”→
It’s been said the hardest thing to do in sports is to hit a baseball. It’s a tough point to argue. Take a guy like Nolan Ryan, one of the greatest fastball pitchers to ever play the game. Ryan unbelievably had a 27-year career and was still throwing the ball 95 mph-plus when he finally retired; ever the “Ryan Express” to the end.
Now, imagine standing in a batter’s box waiting to hit his fastball. Don’t wait too long; you only have four tenths of a second to make contact — that’s less than half a second. It takes a significant amount of focus and “keeping your eye on the ball” if you have the remotest chance of getting a hit. Allow distraction and you’ll strike out. Continue reading “Keep Your Eye on the Ball”→
Maybe you’ve been there, on a missions trip standing in the middle of the urban sprawl of one of the world’s great cities, cities like Buenos Aires, Guatemala City, Sao Paulo, London, Krakow, Rome, or Istanbul. There are people everywhere, bouncing off each other like pinballs. You may have even felt — like I have — very small and wondering what kind of a difference you could possibly make in such an ocean of spiritual lostness.
But we go anyway, don’t we? We have a Great Commission calling, and we know that despite the seemingly overwhelming odds, God calls us to wade into those concrete jungles to serve people and to preach the gospel. And we go knowing that He faithfully brings in the harvest. Continue reading “How Near Are You Willing to Go?”→
Churches charred. Businesses gone. Homes nothing but ash heaps and rubble. Some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen left a blackened wasteland.
A few hours of raging fire forever changed the lives of thousands.
One of those homes on top of one of those mountains belonged to the late Dr. Clyde Martin and his precious widow, Ruth. The families of their son, Mark, and their daughter, Debbie, also had homes there. Continue reading “The Importance of Showing Up”→
There are a millions of spiritually lost people in Tennessee.
That is an obvious statement, but that reality grabbed me again in recent weeks. This time, the faceless mass got personal as spiritual lostness introduced itself with a person’s name.
In preparing for our annual Summit, we sent thousands of cards to our Baptist Collegiate Ministry leaders containing a single question: “If you could ask God one question, what would you ask?” We asked BCM leaders to use the cards to survey students on their respective campuses. We had no idea how the question would be received, but the response was astounding. Nearly 2,000 cards came back individually signed, and as I read through the responses, several truths hit me. Continue reading “If You Could Ask God One Question …”→
Seriously, if you’re a Tennessee Baptist and you want to be a part of what I believe will be the best-ever annual gathering of Tennessee Baptists, you need to be in Sevierville next week.
This is going to be a Summit meeting like you’ve never experienced and I am indebted to the pastors and laypersons serving on the Arrangements Committee. They took to heart the feedback messengers offered after last year’s Summit at First Baptist Church, Millington, and decided to incorporate many of those suggestions into this year’s program. Continue reading “Are You Ready for Our Family Reunion?”→
You are familiar with the story. Two mothers came before King Solomon with a baby, each claiming to be the mother. An argument ensued; accusations flew, and Solomon decided to divide the baby, thereby revealing the identity of the true mother.
Somewhere along the way, the Cooperative Program became the baby many in the Southern Baptists Convention want to divide. Impatience fuels a call for drastic action. We’ve become too quick to draw the sword without considering the broader consequences. Let’s take a breath, step back, and look at the bigger picture. Continue reading “A Strategic Move Toward A 50/50 Distribution”→
Suggs, 72, is the pastor of Cave Hill Baptist Church in Newport. He’s lived in Cocke County his entire life — Cocke County, total population of about 35,000. Suggs shares the story of when he was a young pastor in his early 20s and told some friends that his goal in life was to see a million souls saved.
“I knew to see that goal reached I was going to have to go way beyond Cocke County,” he said. “But I figure that by participating in the Cooperative Program I’ve been able to see at least that many saved in these 50 years.”
Brother Suggs, because of the faithful giving of the churches you’ve served, you’ve seen way beyond a million come to saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ through the diversity of ministries and missions those churches supported by Cooperative Program giving. Continue reading “Do You ‘Get’ the Cooperative Program?”→
Sometimes people make well-meaning statements when they are trying to comfort others about things which they have no personal experience. Fortunately, and somehow, as a young pastor I knew not to say, “I know how you feel” unless I had been through what the other person was going through. It’s Pastoring 101.
I now know how you feel if you’re someone who has lost their momma.
My mom, Melba Ruth Graham, went home to be with the Lord on Aug. 21 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and related illnesses. Even though our family knew her home going was inevitable, it knocked my world off its axis when it actually happened. I’m still adjusting. I’m sure I’ll be adjusting for some time to come. Continue reading “I Now Know How You Feel”→