Not Gathering? Now What?

Posted: March 21, 2020 in Uncategorized

With many Churches moving their worship gatherings online in light of Covid-19, pastors are scrambling to get online to begin a livestream for their congregations. What if there was another alternative? Listen to this episode to hear another alternative during this difficult time.

Greuze, Jean-Baptiste, 1725-1805; A Father Reading the Bible to His Family

When to Cancel Church

Posted: March 17, 2020 in Uncategorized

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With the unsettling pandemic gripping the world, the question that has been highly debated is whether or not to cancel Church. Some say yes, some say no, some say modify. I don’t offer any concrete answers, but hopefully I you will walk away with a little more insight from a pastors perspective when wondering what you should do for your Church.

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The Struggle and God’s glory

Posted: December 6, 2019 in Uncategorized
Struggle
We are all guilty of putting our best life forward on social media. Well, today, I want to give you an inner glimpse of what I struggle with the most and something I’m challenged with, and in the end I want to challenge you as well.
 
I’m guilty of thinking I have more time on this earth. I’m guilty of thinking I’ll live to be an old man, but the truth is, we are not promised our next breath. James 4:14 tells us our life is a vapor, a midst, here today and gone tomorrow. Our life on this earth can end in an instant.
 
Thinking about this and reflecting on this passage I’m challenged. We all experience stress, anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, happiness, joy, delight, and more! But, if I may be honest, I must confess that I have spent a lot of time being stressed, anxious, worried, and even angry. I must also confess that being stressed, anxious, worried and angry has earned or gained me nothing in this life. To be honest, it has hurt more people than I’m willing to admit, but greater still, it hasn’t brought glory to God or exalted the name of Christ.
 
So the question I have for myself is why would I want to continue to live in this pattern? Why should I be stressed out, anxious and hurtful when my life can be taken away in an instant? When God calls me home I want to be giving Him glory in whatever it is I may be doing whether that be on the sick bed or doing any other activity. I want to bring honor to the name of Christ, and not seek to bring honor to myself. I want to do what God has put me here for. To give Him glory, honor Christ, preach the Gospel, make Disciples and shepherd my family. I want to teach my boys how to be God honoring, Christ exalting young men, and I want to teach my daughter how to honor the Lord in all that she does. I want to lead my wife in a Biblical Christ centered way and not in a selfish way. I’m nothing special, I’m not important, I’m just a nobody that want’s to honor God in all that I do. I have wasted so much time doing the opposite in my life. It’s time to really start to shift the perspective.
 
What about you? What will you choose to do today. Spend time seeking self gratification and pleasure, or will you use your time on this earth to give God glory in all that you do. This is not just a challenge to myself, but a challenge to everyone who has read this far. Choose this day whom you will serve.
 
Solus Christus,
 
Pastor Steven

I found this in my drafts from almost three years ago. Ministry apparently doesn’t get any easier, but God is still sovereign!

 

It’s been a while since I have written anything here.  I’m not a writer, I’m not good at commas, I’m not even good with starting new paragraphs, but I do have many thoughts and sometimes I just want to get them on paper (or a computer screen).

I have been in ministry now for about 10 years and if there is one thing I have learned is that it doesn’t get any easier.  For years the phrase “Ministry is Messy,” has circulated throughout the church world.  It has almost become a phrase that is looked over or watered down because we have heard it so much, but the truth of the matter is ministry is indeed messy.

Pastors generally see more than any other person would see, they hear more than any other person would hear and know more than any other person would know.  Pastors usually carry a heavy weight bearing the burdens of so many people in their churches.  On top of carrying the burden of the members, they are often doing so much behind the scenes that people never see, yet they are told they don’t do anything during the week.  All a pastor, youth pastor or worship pastor does is come up with a sermon from the Bible or come up with a few songs right? Right and wrong!

Pastors, youth pastors and worship pastors are some of the hardest working people you will ever come across.  There are a few exceptions, but for pastors that are serious about their calling and their love for people the workload is often overlooked.  Someone in ministry doesn’t go home and unplug from the day’s work like most people do when they clock out and go home.  Pastors and others in ministry work 24/7.  The emails come in “after hours,” the text messages, the phone calls, etc… Not to mention the burdens they still carry for people in their congregations, the chairs they set up, the maintenance they perform, the hospital visits and yet even more.

The biggest responsibility a pastor has is his family.  Many people for get that pastors are in fact people that have families.  A pastor has to be able to love Jesus and his family well.  Often times a pastors family suffers due to the daunting task  placed on him by the church family.  Many think the church work comes before anything else and this simply isn’t true.  Scripture is filled with the mandate that it’s God first and family second, ministry to the church comes later.  Sadly, many churches don’t see it this way which leads to pastor burnout or even worse, a family burnout.

How do we get this right? We first have to realize and understand that just because a pastor isn’t doing physical, manual labor all of the time doesn’t mean he isn’t working hard.  The emotional and spiritual tole a pastor takes leads to a physical tole on his body and he feels like he has worked 168 hours driving cattle from point A to point B on horseback non stop.

We also have to realize that just because we don’t “see” a pastor working doesn’t mean he isn’t working.  As mentioned earlier, most people think that all a pastor does is come up with a sermon, or a few songs to sing on Sunday.  We have to erase that thinking from our minds and start to think through ways to help the pastor with his workload.

As we think through helping the pastor with his workload, we should also think through ways to help him with his family.  Could you keep the kids while he and his wife went on a date, could you take the dog for a walk, clean the house, make a meal, etc… There is nothing better than someone that cares about the pastors family by helping them in any way possible.

Anyone that is in ministry will tell you that at times it seems to be a daunting task.  We are dealing with the total depravity of man and at times see the worst in people.  As we seek to teach the Bible, proclaim the Gospel and see people saved by the grace of God, we do it out of love for God and a love for people.  It’s a tough job without all of the added pressures, but we do it with a smile in public, and a heavy burden that weighs us down in private.

Pastors and other ministry leaders serve out of love because they are called.  It is one of the most thankless jobs on earth, but one with great reward.  I encourage you to pray for your pastor, look over your preconceived ideas about who he is or what he does, pray for his family and do it out of love, not envy or hate.  Get to know him and you might find out that he is much different than you thought.

 

Confessions of a Baptist Pastor

Posted: December 2, 2019 in Uncategorized

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“If you can be happy doing anything else, go do that thing.” Those words pierce the soul, but they ring true louder than any other words I have ever heard when it comes to pastoral ministry. To give you a little context to what this actually means, it means that if you can go to work everyday and be happy doing whatever it is that you would be doing, then go do that thing for a living, and not pastoral ministry.

The truth is being a pastor isn’t easy. Contrary to popular belief, pastors work more than just one or two days a week. Pastors “work” more than people actually know. We don’t clock in to our jobs and at the end of the day clock out and go home. Sure, we rarely have to do physical work, but the work we do spiritually and emotionally is physically draining. We can’t turn it off. We are always “On the clock.” Our minds never shut off, we pray, we worry, we care long after the final amen has been said on Sunday mornings. We worry about the marriage that is failing, we pray for the one that is losing a loved one, we think about the people in our congregation who we care for. Not to mention the hours spent in sermon prep for Sunday morning and Wednesday evening services. It never stops.

Sadly, because pastors carry such a heavy burden, often times their own home life is in shambles. The pastors wife is frustrated because her husband is always with someone else, helping them with their problems. The pastors kids wonder when their dad is going to be home. When will they watch a movie together, or throw the ball outside? The phone rings, and dad is gone again. Someone needs him. The home life of a pastor is neglected because people need their pastor.

I haven’t even mentioned the people that leave the Church. Some leave the right way, others are gone without a trace. The pastor takes it personally, even when it was nothing he did to cause them to leave. Maybe it was something he did, either way it hurts because he cares for the people in the Church and the people that left the Church. There are no easy days for pastors. There are no one day work weeks. It never stops.

You may be thinking that this all sounds bad. Let me assure you there are many highs and lows in pastoral ministry, but I want to tell you, in light of all the ups and downs, there is joy. There is joy in Christ! Pastors need to realize that the Churches in which God has entrusted them to lead isn’t theirs! The Church belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ and this should help us rest in Him with joyful hearts.

Christ reigns supreme! Colossians 1:15-20 says, “15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

He is the head of the Church! Whatever happens, we rest in the peace of knowing that the Church belongs to Jesus. The pastor must only stay true to the text, preach the Gospel, exalt Christ, care for others and stay faithful to Christ. When we stay faithful to Him, He is faithful to us, and pastors can let the chips fall where they may, because they all fall under the providential hand of God.

Pastoral ministry is hard, but I must confess, it sure is joyful.

Soli Deo Gloria

Pastor Steven

For a little while…

Posted: May 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

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James 4:14-15 says “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” A mist, a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. Isn’t that just like life? It goes by so fast. I remember when I was a kid people would tell me how fast I have grown. When my wife and I had our first child people told us that it goes by so fast. I would always shrug it off and think nothing else about it because 10-12 years is 10-12 years, it takes a while. Wrong!

As I sit here typing this, that same child people told us would grow so fast is now 12 years old. It did indeed go by way to fast. Everyone was right, it seems like just yesterday he was an infant totally dependent on us. Now he is 12 years old and doesn’t need us as much. He’s a strong independent kid with a future ahead of him. Little does he know right now, that future will be here before he blinks. All of a sudden he will be 24, and then 34. It happens so fast.

Also, as I sit here, my grandmother is in the hospital and has been for over a week. She has been in the critical care unit and as I get updates from my family that is with her I hear about how fast she is going down. She is 82 years old, but I remember when she was 52 years old. She was my closest friend and a sweet young lady with so much time left. 30 years seems like a long time, but let me tell you, it seems like just yesterday we were in the backyard swinging, listening to the birds sing, and listening to her sweet voice sing How Great Thou Art to me. Now as the end of her life approaches I can’t help but think about this passage in James. A mist that is here for a little time, and then vanishes.

What do we do with something like this? I’ll tell you. We search our hearts. We work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We rest in who Christ is in our lives and live a life worthy of our calling. We preach the Gospel to those that are here for just a short time. We must be passionate about Jesus and the souls of others. We never know when our time will come where we look back on it all and say it was all to fast.

While you are here, trust Christ. Repent and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian, preach the Gospel to a lost and dying world. It’s the most important thing you could do. Do work!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pastor Steven

I must admit from the get go that this may be an unpopular opinion. It will probably not line up with the majority of Americans, but when it comes to the school shooter I have a few thoughts.

First, let me start by saying when I saw this man standing in front of a judge on television, my first instinct was to give him the death penalty, and give it to him quickly. I wanted him to die quickly for a few reasons. 1. So he would pay quickly for the crime he committed. 2. So he doesn’t sit around getting 3 hots and a cot for the rest of his life, or until he is put to death. 3. I didn’t want him sitting in jail while my tax dollars paid for him to keep living.

Since those first thoughts I have since drawn back a bit. Well, maybe a good bit. I have completely changed my outlook on this man. Now, I know many might say I am crazy, or foolish for not thinking this way anymore, but let me explain.

In a previous post I mentioned the fact that this crime is a result of this fallen world. Sin, is the reason this happened. This young man was/is sick, but the thing is, we are all sick. We are all sick with sin and the only remedy is Jesus Christ.

You see what I want now more than anything is for there to be someone like Paul waiting for this man in prison. Someone that has been saved by the grace of God Almighty. Someone that will preach and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to this guy and hopefully the Lord will open his heart to receive salvation. Does he need to face the consequences of his actions? Of course he does. He should be held accountable, even if that is the death penalty.

My thoughts are not simply, get it over with, or let him rot in jail. My prayer is that God will save his soul. Regardless of the crime, he still needs Christ. Christ is the only thing and the only person that will redeem him, offer him life, and forgive him of his sins.

I pray as Christians we will all think this way. Not pardoning him of his crime, but praying that God will one day soon pardon him of his sin, just like he did for you and me.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to comment.

I Love My Church!

Posted: February 19, 2018 in Uncategorized

My family and I loaded up a U-Haul truck back in August of 2017 and moved from Cross Plains, Tennessee to Jonesboro, Arkansas where I became the Lead Pastor of South Caraway Baptist Church. It has been a little over six months now since we have been here and I just want to say that I love my church!! The men, women, boys and girls that gather every Sunday and Wednesday in our building are not just people, they are family.

Just like any ministry there have been a few up’s and downs, but the Lord is faithful! We understand that we don’t wrestle with flesh and blood, but with the cosmic powers, the spiritual forces at work in this world (Ephesians 6:12). We know there is an enemy that prowls around seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). This is why we stand true and faithful on the Mighty Word of God! We stand with each other and encourage one another to pursue Christ and become more like Him daily.

I have been blessed by the amazing people at South Caraway Baptist Church and I look forward to being their pastor for many years to come. Will you all join me in praying for my church? Thank you in advance.

In Christ,

Pastor Steven

Another School Shooting?

Posted: February 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

what-is-sinI opened up my twitter feed yesterday and right before me was the horror of another school shooting. I didn’t realize until early this morning that 17 people lost their lives to another senseless act of violence. 17 people that were going about their daily lives, making plans, looking forward to things, learning, hanging out with friends and just living their lives. All of that was shattered yesterday when a young man with a gun chose to reign terror on the precious victims.

We find ourselves mourning for these victims and their families. Many people all across the world are mourning with those who mourn, and weeping with those who weep. There is a shared bond with many people as we watch from near and far, this tragedy unfold. Many are asking why, many don’t understand, some are pushing for tougher gun laws, and their are others that simply do not care.

The problem with one of these tragedies is that people want to point fingers at the shooter, his family, his mental health, his upbringing, or to the weapon he was holding. Others want to point fingers at different groups for supporting guns, those groups point the fingers back at them for not supporting guns. It is a never ending cycle of blame placed on so many different people, groups, or things. Yes, the shooter made decisions that he will have to live with fore the rest of his life. He will face the consequences of his actions, and he will have to live with the 17 faces he gunned down in cold blood.

Ultimately, we have to look at the root cause of the actions that were carried out at this school. Sin. Many want to point fingers, but not many want to acknowledge the real reason this, and other tragedies, occur.  The answer is sin. We live in a fallen world. From the time the Bible opens in Genesis chapter 3 we see man completely disobey a holy and perfect God by eating the fruit from the tree he specifically told Adam to avoid (Genesis 2:17).  Because of this very act in the Garden, sin has spread to all men and women that have walked this earth or will walk this earth in the future (Romans 5:12).

If sin is the root cause then what is the solution? Jesus. Only Jesus. He is the only answer to this curse of sin. This is why it’s all to important that professing Christians take the Gospel seriously, the Good News of Jesus Christ. If we are true believers then we must preach the Gospel and make disciples of all nations. This means we must be ready to have Gospel conversations everywhere we go. We need to tell people that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and nobody comes to the Father but through Him (John 14:6).  It’s important to take the Great Commission seriously (Matthew 28:16-20). I will admit, sometimes it’s difficult to talk to people about Jesus, but think of the people that boldly proclaimed the Gospel to you which led to your salvation. You could be the person God uses in someones life to hear and receive the Gospel.

You never know, that person you talk to today about Jesus may be just one breath away from making a serious decision that could affect many people for the rest of their lives. Proclaim the Gospel everywhere you go and trust God to save souls. Sin is serious, which is why we need to be even more serious about the Gospel.

In Christ,

Pastor Steven