A Clarion Call and Not Just a Theme

In 1873, a young Dwight L. Moody stood in the vestry of a Baptist church in Dublin, Ireland, talking with Henry Varley, an influential British revivalist preacher. During the course of that conversation, Varley uttered words that rocketed through Moody’s soul and altered the course of Moody’s future ministry.

“Moody,” he said, “The world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to him.” Continue reading “A Clarion Call and Not Just a Theme”

Depression: It’s Time to Openly Talk About It

We have a problem and we can’t ignore it any longer.

It’s time we were honest with ourselves and with each other. To pretend we don’t face a serious issue would be a life-threatening mistake. I’m talking about depression among pastors and ministers (and everyone else). Depression is a reality, and I can’t bear the thought of losing one more pastor, one more person, to depression that ends in suicide. Continue reading “Depression: It’s Time to Openly Talk About It”

The Childlike Awe at the Wonder of God

Davis Walker, 4-year-old grandson of Randy C. and Jeanne Davis, enjoys the beach for the first time in Florida.

I always love going home. The beauty astounds me.

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.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a beach fix in years. Like many of you, our family loves the surf and sand, so we’ve been anticipating a vacation to Blue Mountain Beach, Fla.  Continue reading “The Childlike Awe at the Wonder of God”

Why I Am Thankful for Steve Gaines

Steve Gaines
-Photo by Morris Abernathy

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”

Showing the Way to Finishing Well

Don Cobb

One of the mixed blessings of being a pastor is presiding or participating in funerals, especially those of Christian friends. On the one hand there is sadness for the loss of family members and friends; on the other there is the celebration knowing those individuals “see in full” as the Apostle Paul writes. They have arrived safely into the arms of Jesus. They’re home.

Doug Sager

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the joy and high honor of participating in the funerals of two gentlemen leaders and choice servants of God — pastors Don Cobb and Doug Sager. Both these men exemplified what it means to love God and love people. They set the bar high for pastoral ministry while demonstrating the highest level of humility. Both had a passion to see people come to saving faith in Jesus. Both demonstrated what we can be when we walk with God and submit to His leadership every day, every week, every month, every year, year-after-year until Jesus calls us home. Both men left legacies whose ripple effects will reap a Kingdom harvest for years to come. They’ve shown us how to finish well. Continue reading “Showing the Way to Finishing Well”

In Pursuit of the Perfect Pastor

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”

Three Reasons Why You Need the Summit

Summit 2017 at FBC Hendersonville, Nov. 12-15.

I loved family reunions when I was growing up. Those reunions always landed on or near my Grandpa Davis’ birthday. My Grandpa Davis was my hero. He and Granny Davis were faithful saints and I loved them dearly. Granny Davis was the greatest prayer warrior I’ve ever known, and Grandpa Davis served as treasurer at Little Escambia (Ala.) Baptist Church for over 40 years.

I remember that nearly 100 kinfolks would show up and pack out the church. Afterwards, we’d head to Granny’s and Grandpa’s small house for dinner-on-the-grounds. It was always a blast seeing cousins, aunts and uncles I only got to see once a year. Continue reading “Three Reasons Why You Need the Summit”

Is Ministry Your Mushroom?

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?”

Pastor: Nine Steps To Recovering Your Joy

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”

During Difficult Days, the Power of the Call

170201hard-times-stressed-silhouetteEver feel overwhelmed, depressed, discouraged, burned out by the demands that surround the ministry?

When the challenges of ministry and faithfulness in preaching the gospel began to overwhelm me, a book entitled The Power of the Call (Blackaby, Brandt and Skinner) was excellent reading.

Full-time and bivocational pastors deal with these same challenges at various times. Here are six tips to help us refocus during difficult days when we might even question our call: Continue reading “During Difficult Days, the Power of the Call”