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Apr 21

Highs & Lows of Preaching / Pastoring

Highs & Lows of Preaching / Pastoring

The other day I had an opportunity to be a very lengthy writing from Pastor Joe McKeever.

He’s an generously wise Pastor with years of experience.  In this writing, someone asked him a question and he provided the response.  I’ve provided the question and his answer below.

I (as I’m sure most preachers and pastors can) could identity spot on with his answer.

I hope it provides some perspective for you and some encouragement for you…depending on which seat you’re in.

PastorWhy does my pastor seem detached from the joys of our wedding or the sorrows of our funeral?

I’ll tell you one story from my ministry. One Saturday afternoon many years ago, at one o’clock, we held the funeral for Susan Edmondson at the United Methodist Church down the street because our sanctuary (First Baptist) was decorated for a wedding that would be held two hours later. Susan had grown up in our church, was a popular and well-loved young woman, the youngest child of her older parents, and had been the victim of a bizarre accident. Working in an art store in New York City, that day she had moved a huge piece of art—a heavy column or something—by “walking” it back and forth. As she turned and walked away, it fell on her, crushing her skull. She never knew what hit her. We were all devastated.

The church was packed out with heartbroken friends and family. I recall none of the details of the funeral, but will never forget the anguish I felt trying to be the family’s pastor that day.

Then, a short time after that funeral, we gathered in the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church to unite Nathan Wright and Susie John in marriage. We did everything we could to rejoice with them.

It was one of the hardest afternoons I’ve ever known. When it was over, I went home and had trouble sleeping. The next morning, Sunday, I was expected to get up and function as usual, preaching two morning services and one that night. But my heart had been ripped out.

I knew then why some people turn to liquor or drugs. They have to have some relief.

A pastor does this a few times and learns to protect himself by not entering so deeply into the pain or rising so high with the joys.

Hold her in the road. Steady as she goes. It’s what a pastor does.

Apr 20

I’ll Cherish It!

I’ll Cherish It!

Today is Easter!

The big-ness of this day can be likened to the big-ness of the Superbowl, Master’s (golf), National Championship Games…yet MUCH bigger! There is only ONE other day that has as much significance for the believer than Easter, which represents Jesus’ resurrection and victory over death.  That other day is Christmas, which represents His physical birth.

Today, as I’ve worshipped, enjoyed my Pastor’s preaching, enjoyed the music team’s songs, and fellowshipped with other believers, I couldn’t help but pause and really understand how BIG (it’s REALLY BIG!) the cross is and what it REALLY means.

Holy crossThere’s a hymn that says, “I’ll cherish the old rugged cross…”

Without breaking down the entire hymn right now, that one line was on repeat in my mind today.

That one line created a bag of emotions for me today.

I was shaken – The cross literally represents death AND life. Simply Put – Without his death, I am DEAD! With his life, I am ALIVE. All of the wrong that I’ve done, did, and may do – has a penalty and cost associated with it.  And I’ll be totally honest – I’m not good enough, rich enough, or smart enough…to pay for it. Without the cross, I am spiritually emotionally, mentally, and ultimately, physically dead with no hope.  Jesus’ death represents the opportunity for FULL LIFE for me. Jesus’ death paid for my sins! This shakes me!  It literally puts a lump in my throat…because He didn’t have to! He chose to…but didn’t have to!


I was humbled – I know some people overlook it, but I am literally humbled at how much God could love us that He would send His only son to die for me. I love my sons, but I am not really convinced that I’d over them for the sins of others. This epiphany is a “mouth-dropping” reality for me.  It may sound stupid, but he could have only made this love available to a select group of people or a certain group that did certain things, but God didn’t do that! He made it available to anyone who wants it and embraces it.

I was a little angered – The pull of today’s culture and society is that the cross is simply a piece of jewelry.  I know that many people offer much more respect for less significant things.  People honor and worship their cars, clothes, houses, sports paraphenalia, greek-letters, and money more than we really honor the cross.

I’m sure you wonder how I could make such a big reaching statement.  When we look at the kind of disrespect and disregard that happens in the presence of the cross, let’s me know how little we recognize — cherish – the cross’ impact. When we understand the BIG-NESS of the Cross, we probably wouldn’t disrespect God’s children with it on…or wouldn’t degrade ourselves with it on…or wouldn’t dishonor God’s purpose in our lives with it on. Candidly, we wouldn’t live our lives in our own pursuits with the cross on us as jewelry or tattoo or clothing…

I’ve been guilty of it too!  I was busy trying to find the perfect piece of jewelry and would overlook the perfect sacrifice that Jesus offered – by offering His life.

I’m not sure about you – but even beyond Easter today – I will CHERISH the cross.

I will honor Jesus’ death – but live in His resurrection!

I will show appreciation for His sacrifice – but will die to my own agenda!

I will pause to pray for those who may not understand the cross’ significance – while remaining mindful that my own lifestyle reflects its work.

Believe it, understand it, Reflect on it, Honor it…bottom line…let’s Cherish the cross.

Happy Easter!



Jan 20

What Award Would You Win?

What Award Would You Win?

Happy New Year!

I cannot believe that we are already at the end of January of the New Year!  Not only did 2013 run right out, but it seems that 2014 is moving at breakneck speeds as well.

Nonetheless, 2013 was a great year in which a great deal of progress in my personal and professional life was made.  I’ll share more about it during the year.

2014 started in a great way!

  • This year, each person in our church has been challenged to pick a one word theme that would characterize their life.  Based on Psalm 45: 1, what would your theme for this year be?
  • My wife and I had an opportunity to experience one of the most exciting college football games in historyIN PERSON! I have NO WORDS to really describe it.  It didn’t hurt that we are STRONG Florida State Seminole Fans (and Alumni!)
  • I’ve expanded my bucket list a little bit. My bucket list excites me, especially when I get to check things off the lists!
  • Have you finished writing your goals for 2014 yet?  I started writing mine at the end of November 2013 and have finished most of them, but have to admit to you, I’m still working on them. (I’m not sure – is this a good thing or a bad thing…?)
  • I’ve already experienced 5 deaths that either I knew personally or a family member of someone who I know well.  Death can be VERY sobering!  More than anything, one of them had me in deep reflection during their funeral because I knew his face well but I didn’t know his story well (I’ll have to also admit that I did not know his name well either).  I was amazed to discover all of the great background that this gentleman had with teaching, ministry work, and professional work, and yet our interactions together spoke nothing of this.  I don’t know if he was taking a break from being so busy or attempting to “be humble”, but after being in classes where I’ve taught and he never uttered a word, was a bit sobering (He’d taught Bible for 40 years!).  To be working on ministry initiatives and to find out that he ran a state department that could have run circles around the limited knowledge that we were operating with…was…very humbling! The other lesson that I learned is that as ministry leaders we don’t often know the amazing stories sitting in the pew every week.  I’m really driven by figuring out how to deal with this reality.

awardsToday, I want to challenge you a bit.  I’ve observed this year as the Oscar nominations have been held, the Stellar Awards, and the SAG Awards have been presented.  Couple that with the A) deaths that I’ve been aware of; B) The celebration of Dr. Martin Luther Kings’ birthday, and C) the one word theme challenge that we’ve been issued…the prevailing thought that I’ve considered is this: If there were any awards that you’d be nominated for and win – what would the award be?

Think about that for a moment.  If there were any awards that you’d be nominated for and win – what would the award be?

There are LOADS of awards that you could see on television and in newspapers throughout any given year, but there are many that you’ll never notice promoted.  These are the awards that I think we should really via for.

What about being: Most Dinners At Home With Family, Most Consistent Health Eating for 2014, Most Consistent Christian Award, Award for the Longest Running Prayer With God, Consistent Character Crystal Ball…

These seem a bit corny and even odd, but you get the point!  The most important things in life may never even have an award associated with them.  They may never be celebrated, commemorated, and highlighted.  There may never be a day named for it, a national holiday set aside, or even any newspaper articles of it.

But it is what matters.  I’m interested in being the BEST daddy in the world!  I’m interested in being the BEST husband in the world.  I’m interested in making God smile!  I’m interested in living out my life purpose and divine assignment every day!  I’m interested in growing my gifts in a way that make people shake their heads at what God would do in me and through me.  I’m interested in making a great name!  I’m interested in having enough to live on that I can share it with the world!  I’m interested in eternalizing the voice that God has given me.  And I’m sure that my list is no different than yours…

But what are we going to do about it?  Are we moving everyday towards this reality? I think if you do your part, you may never be formally handed this award that you were striving for, but you’ll truly be declared the winner.  You’ll be among those present and accounted for when the list of great ___________ (whatever it is that you are striving for…).

I hope that your fire is lit SO strong that it motivates you to wake up in the morning with a smile on your face, purpose on your mind, The Holy Spirit guiding you, your work pushing you, and your legacy encouraging you.  Let’s go…2014 isn’t waiting on us. Be Inspired!

Oct 6

10 Things To Do When You’re Overwhelmed!

10 Things To Do When You’re Overwhelmed!

Over the past month or so, I have come into contact with so many people who are simply overwhelmed!

young woman with computerBeing overwhelmed can mean alot of things to different people.  The obvious question is, “What do I do when I’m overwhelmed?”

It’s pretty easy to stand on the outside of a person’s situation and ‘tell’ them what to do.  So I won’t offer any distant and disconnected advice.  I’ll tell you what I’ve done in those times and moments when I was overwhelmed.

1. I go to sleep! 

Sometime, when I’m overwhelmed it could be that my brain is not able to create the necessary margin it needs to process all that’s currently happening or being thrown at me.  It’s sort of like when your computer freezes up. When the computer freezes up, that’s the computer’s way of trying to say it needs to stop and play catch up.  The best thing to do is turn it off and let it process and breathe.  We’re the same way! Sometimes you just need to go to sleep (or take a nap!).

2. I get some nourishment!

At least for me, sometimes if I hadn’t eaten or gotten enough water for the day, I can become physically weary, which may lead to mental exhaustion.  It’s amazing what a balanced salad, fruit, yogurt, nuts and raisins, and pure water will do for you physically.  Which then, empowers you mentally.  Sometimes, that nourishment includes getting outside.  I am always amazed when I consider how God has naturally wired the environment to supply you with some of the vitamins and nutrients that you need to thrive.

3. I step back and reflect!

There are moments when I was thinking too hard.  I was working on a solution or project and just felt overwhelmed in the middle of working through the details.  I have learned that at some moments, I just need to back away, let the situation sit, redirect my attention on something else, and come back to it.  Giving me and the project some space, oftentimes allows me to have a fresh perspective and to see things with new eyes.

4. I ask Why’s & What’s!

I know this may sound really simple or misplaced, but I am amazed at how often we never stop and ask, “Why am I overwhelmed?” or “What should I be doing?” in this situation.  Many times we are so responsive that when something happens that requires our input and/or work, we’re only reactionary, with no opportunity to really digest and reflect.  Take the time to reflect.

5. I pray!

Say what you want, Prayer Works! It is a dialogue,  not a monologue.  Over time, I have learned (and still learning) that there is more significance in me listening in prayer more than me talking.  Supernaturally, it empowers every part of my life, provides insight, allows me to purge those areas of my life that don’t reflect Jesus Christ, and settles my heart, mind, and spirit to reflect the counsel of God’s Word. It’s simple for me – prayer works – it changes me, my perspective, and lastly, my situations.

6. I dig into God’s Word!

When the situation warrants, it, I dig into God’s Word to evaluate what God’s opinion is about a particular topic and/or idea.  God’s Wisdom and thoughts are priceless.  As 2 Timothy 3: 16 (NLT) says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

7. I read other relevant materials!

Sometimes there are spiritual and I refer to the Bible as my foundation.  But oftentimes, God will use other authors, leaders, and professionals to guide the process of our learning and provide us with wisdom in various life circumstances.  I once heard a minister say, “All I need is God’s Word. I don’t have time to read someone’s opinion!”  I couldn’t disagree with him more! It is clear that God’s Word serves as the filter for our lives FOR EVERYTHING!  But I am too blessed today because I’ve also had a balanced reading regimen that has helped me at every stage of my life. Here are some of the books that I’ve read.

8. I get advice!

We are not better than the advice we get.  Proverbs 11:14 (ERV) says, “Where no wise guidance is, the people falleth: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” Nuff said!

9. I prepare!

I literally mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically prepare for those seasons of my life when I know that it’ll be busy and hectic.  There are seasons like that.  That’s just life.  So, because I know that life is a series of seasons, it’s best just to prepare for it instead of complain about it.

10. I do nothing!

There are times where, when you are under pressure and you have walked through the necessary steps to process where you are and discern truths about the pressure, that all that you can resolve is – to do nothing. Our human nature is to always be doing something or make something happen.  But, amazing wisdom, lets us know that there are some things that are simply out of our control. Get that – Out of Our Control! Remember, the Serenity Prayer?!?!?! It’s a good place to insert it here!

How do you handle pressure when you’re overwhelmed?