Don’t Get Too Busy

This morning was a first for me.  The morning started out pretty much like any other morning.  There was the getting breakfast together, helping get the kids ready for the day and then finally getting myself ready.  I was running through things in my mind that I would like to get done today in the office – sermons for Wednesday and Sunday, reading that I would like to get done, planning, etc.

As I was getting my things together to head out the door, it happened.  I don’t know where it came from, but it hit hard.  We have never seen this reaction before.  Our middle son, Sam, bust out into tears and said that he wanted to stay with Daddy.  I was blindsided.

Normally, our boys flock to the mother for EVERYTHING.  They are true-blue Momma-boys.  I’m okay with that.  I was a Momma-boy growing up as well.  For some reason today, Sam wanted his Daddy.  I would be lying if I said that there was not a feeling of pride swelling up inside of me.

I made the decision to give this thing a try.  There is nothing for my 4-year-old son to do in my office other than color on some paper and play in the floor in the corner.  I told my wife something along the lines of, “let’s see what happens.”  We got him ready and a couple of toys, and it was off to the office with Daddy.  Surprisingly, he did pretty good – other than lock himself in the bathroom.

We went home for lunch and I told my son that he would have to stay at the house with Mommy.  He was fine with that.  He had some one-on-one “Daddy time,” and he was happy with that.

I was reminded during the time together and over lunch that these kiddos are not going to be here in our house very long.  There is a small window of their life that we as their parents have to make an impact.  Ministry is tough work.  There is a lot of preparation, planning, and praying that must be done.  But, as I was reminded of today, it should never come at the expense of your family.

Lend A Hand

helping handsAt the church that I serve as Pastor, we are looking at the book of Acts on Wednesday nights.  This has been a good journey so far.  We were looking at chapter 3 recently.  This is the account of where a man who was lame from birth was miraculously healed.

We see Peter and John heading to the temple for a time of prayer.  They came across a sight that was all to common: someone begging for necessities.  There was no government welfare programs.  People in this man’s condition during this time were at the mercy of those going to “worship.”

In verse 6, Peter tells the man that they do not have what this man wants (money), but they do have what this man needs (wholeness in Jesus).  They tell the man to get up and walk.  I can only imagine the look that the apostles received from this man.  They were asking him to do something that he had never done before.

What happened next stood out to me most clearly.  The apostles didn’t just tell this man a good message.  They stopped what they were doing, bent their schedule, and actually helped the man to his feet.

How many times are we tempted to just pass on a good word or message and then move on our merry little way?  We may see someone in need and say, “God bless you!” or “May the Lord be with you” or “here’s $5 to get some food,” and then we’re off.

I think that doing something is better than nothing.  We could easily just walk right by and think, “it’s not my problem.”  I would hope that God’s people would not do that.  But what greater impact could be made if we took a moment and actually helped those who are down up?

I remember last year being at a statewide meeting for our denomination.  It was in downtown of the state capital.  When the evening session – which was a great time of worship – dismissed, many filed out to their vehicles to go to their respective places for the night.  I noticed a man who seemed homeless asking for money from those going to their vehicles.  Every single person just pushed him away.  I was shocked that so many people that had just had the opportunity to worship the Lord were so quick to turn away from this man.

I went to him and asked his name.  I asked him what he needed, and he said some money for food.  He was indeed homeless.  I was tired.  I was supposed to be getting to my in-laws’ house for the night.  I was supposed to be calling in and checking on my wife and kids back home.  But here before me was a need that I could meet.  Would it call for me to adjust my schedule?  Yes.  Am I able to help every single homeless person in that area?  Probably not – don’t have that kind of funding.  I could do for this one what I wished that I could do for everyone (statement credit has to go to Andy Stanley).  I told him to get into my vehicle and took him to the local Taco Bell.

On the ride, I heard a little more of his story.  He was not very receptive to Gospel talk.  I just shared that I was a Christian and would like to help him because Jesus has helped me.  I bought him a $5 combo meal.  We parted ways.

Did he trust Jesus and enter the next worship service jumping and praising God with me?  Nope.  I do not know what happened of him.  I do know that as I drove to my in-laws’ house that I felt one of the greatest moments of peace that I had in a while.  I had been the hands and feet of Christ to this man for a moment.

Words are good.  We need to share the words of hope that are found only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Actions reaffirm those words.  May the Church be the hands and feet of Christ in this world because nothing else will be.

Give Thanks Day 27

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Today, I would like to express my gratitude for seminary training in ministry.  I am heading towards the final stretch of this 7-year journey that I call seminary.  I have enjoyed most of my time at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

As I look back over the past 7 years, I am so glad that I have taken this journey.  I can remember that spring day in 2001, when I was eating lunch in my college‘s student union building.  I was minding my own business when a man stopped and asked if he could join me for lunch.  As I looked up, it was Dr. Chuck Kelley – president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary – who was at our college speaking at a campus revival.  I asked him a very serious question over lunch: “Do I really have to go to seminary?”  He smiled and answered, “NO. If God isn’t leading you, then you shouldn’t.”  I’ll never forget that day.  There was urging from our college’s Bible professors for all of us “preacher boys” to go on to seminary.  I was tired of school.

After a six year layout, I felt God prodding my heart to go to seminary.  God tends to know just the right time for everything.  I began my journey at NOBTS in January of 2007.  The skills, knowledge, and friends that I have gained from this experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.  They have made me the pastor and person I am today.

So, to you NOBTS, I say thank you (and hopefully this coming May – see ya!).

Give Thanks Day 19

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One thing that I’ve learned about ministry is that you can’t go at it alone. The task that The Lord calls each of His followers to (not just the pastors and missionaries) is one that calls for community. One can try to tackle this by himself, but he will find himself disappointed, discouraged, and throwing in the towel. In light of this observation, I would like to take a moment today and say thanks to the countless people who have supported me in the work God has called me to.

20131119-074202.jpgI realize more and more each day how the people that God has placed in my path at certain moments were planted their specifically by Him. He knew what I needed – whether it be monetary support, an encouraging word, or a kick in the pants – and put the right people in place to accomplish His will.

To those who have helped financially, lifted me up in prayer, put an arm around me and shared an encouraging word, or yes, even took me aside and lovingly gave me the kick in the pants I needed, I say a big “thank you!” I do not have enough room on this blog to mention each by name, but I hold the memory of your contribution to the work the Lord has called me to very close. I would definitely not be here if it weren’t for the faithful saints of God being used in big and small ways.

Who can you invest in and encourage today?

Give Thanks Day 16

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I would like to say thank you to the men who played the role of pastor in my life. While many people often think to the person behind the pulpit when they hear the term “pastor,” I’ve learned that it is much more than a title. It is a calling of God and comes in many forms.

The pastors in my life have come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. These men have been used by God to teach and mold me to be the man (and Christian) I am today. Some of these men have held the title “pastor” in a local church (senior pastor, youth pastor, etc). Some of these men have just been godly laity that He has used in mighty ways.

One interesting thing that I have learned is that the term “pastor” comes from the Greek word poimen, and refers more to the function they do instead of a title. That function is likened to a shepherd caring for sheep (feeding, grooming, training, disciplining). That function is not always carried out in a church service.

I am eternally grateful to my Heavenly Father for placing pastors in my path at just the right time. It would take the rest of the day to list the “pastors” in my life (plus I’d forget someone), but I feel that most of them know who they are. May The Lord continue to use you and bless you as you are used by Him to shape His sheep.