I grew up on the Alabama Gulf Coast and love it. But it’s a little more than just loving it, it’s in my blood. The majority of my earliest memories are of water skiing up and down the canal, fishing off the coast of Orange Beach, shrimping in Perdido Bay, and sitting at the end of our pier drinking coffee and watching beautiful sunsets with my family.
Messengers to the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention stand at the threshold of two watershed days in our denomination’s history this week as the annual meeting convenes in Dallas. More importantly, these representatives from our network of churches play a central role in the outcomes that lie ahead.
There has been much in the news about Southern Baptists coming into this convention, and unfortunately little of it has been positive. Messengers have many decisions to make, and in my opinion one of the most important responsibilities is to prayerfully elect our next SBC president. But as we look beyond this convention, I want to look backward and express sincere gratitude to God and to the messengers who twice elected Tennessee’s own Dr. Steve Gaines as president of the SBC. Continue reading “Why I Am Thankful for Steve Gaines”→
Let me go ahead and say it: Pastors aren’t perfect.
Surely that isn’t new information for anyone, but I can almost hear you saying, “Well thanks for that news flash Captain Obvious.” But let me ask, if we already know that why do we expect different from our pastors?
Ironically, I’m not just talking to the dear brothers and sisters who gather each week in our pews. I’m also talking to the men who stand in the pulpit in front of those pews. Both groups know the truth yet too often live in the world of unmet expectations rather than reality.
I’ve obviously been a member of both the pew and pulpit groups and I know any pastor worth his salt has a high expectation of himself. He wants to serve the Lord and the Lord’s people well. He feels the responsibility of being God’s shepherd. Every pastor wants his church to thrive, grow, love the spiritually lost, and love each other. He wants to lead an evangelistic and financially generous church. Every pastor wants to succeed; no pastor plans to fail. Continue reading “In Pursuit of the Perfect Pastor”→
A strange phenomenon happened in the Pacific Northwest. Large patches of trees were dying in an Oregon forest. Scientists determined the problem was a single breed of mushroom that covered 2,384 acres, about the size of 1,600 soccer fields.
Apparently the white tentacles of the mushroom wrapped around root systems and tree trunks and robbed the trees of nutrients, carbohydrates, and water. In other words, the mushrooms choked the trees to death.
Is ministry your mushroom? I talk to ministers every week who relate to the trees. While everything looks okay on the surface, hidden stressors suck the life out of them. Left unchecked, the consequences are disastrous. For instance, according to multiple surveys … Continue reading “Is Ministry Your Mushroom?”→
It wasn’t too long ago that the idea of hockey catching on in the South was laughable. Well, nobody is laughing now. The hysteria surrounding the Nashville Predators has boiled beyond Middle Tennessee and it’s been interesting to hear comments and see Facebook posts from around the state supporting the Preds. No question about it; Nashville is definitely a hockey town.
There wasn’t an abundance of hockey to watch growing up on the Alabama Gulf Coast so needless to say; hockey really wasn’t on my radar until a few years ago when Jeanne and I were given tickets to attend a Predators game. We knew zilch, nada, nothing about the game, but we had a blast. The energy, excitement and the quickness were amazing. And the way those guys cross checked each other; I cringed with every hit. I was a little concerned by how much my sweet, godly wife loved hockey! Needless to say, we’ve been Preds fans ever since. Continue reading “Barely Making It, but Finishing Well”→
There are moments in life that are so obviously important that they need not scream to be recognized. The magnitude of their presence halts the daily hustle and quietly demands that we notice, and reflect, and determine that the nostalgic moment becomes a prelude to something greater.
I believe God has granted to Tennessee Baptists such a poignant moment and we must pause to understand its significance to our past, but more importantly, to our future.
Last Monday (May 22) the staff of your Tennessee Baptist Mission Board walked into the new Church Support Center, marking the end of what amounted to a 10-year pilgrimage. Relocation was an arduous process, but one in which God graciously led us to build a beautiful building in a strategic location in Franklin, repeating the grace we believe He extended to our Tennessee Baptist predecessors when He led them to building in Brentwood in the 1960s. The 45-year increase in the value of that property provided the possibility of Monday’s moment. Continue reading “Pausing for Poignant Moments”→
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”→
Small groups and youth ministry are subjects of lively debate these days. Is a youth Sunday school class a real small group experience? Should they meet on the church campus or in homes? Should they be co-ed or same sex? Should they all study the same curriculum or be allowed to pick their own? Should they meet all year round or take the summer off?
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”→