Reflection over 1,000 sermons, or 10 years at FBC Tishomingo

It was sometime in the spring of 2011 that I received a phone call from the search committee at FBC Tishomingo, wondering if I would be able to come down and speak with them. I replied that I would be glad to, right as soon as I figured out where Tishomingo was.  Even after spending most of my life in Oklahoma, I don't think I had ever been here before. I found that Tishomingo was not on the way to anywhere, and that you had to be going here to get here. I guess that's why once I came I just decided to stay.   I came in view of call and my first official Sunday was Easter, April 24, 2011.   God has been good to me and my family and blessed our time here immensely.  I didn't know how hard it would be to stay here this long, and I didn't know how much of a blessing it would be either.  It's only by God's grace that I have been able to stay here and continue to minister.  As I reflected over the last 10 years I also put together a few statistics about my time here.

Only the impeded river sings

  “Just listen.” That was some of the wise advice I got from an older pastor about talking to someone who was suffering.  No matter if it is sickness, tragedy, trials, or worse, no one really feels like listening when they are facing tough times. That’s what makes the words from Peter stand out at the end of 1 Peter 4 as he begins to close his letter.  He tells his readers, and by extension us, to “not be surprised” when suffering comes. We spend most of our lives trying to avoid suffering, even though the pages of the Bible clearly teach that suffering will come to all of us. As a pastor, I can’t imagine sitting with someone in the hospital and telling them as they face a tragedy “well don’t be surprised.”  It feels callous at best, but the words of Peter stand as a stark reminder to us that no one will escape suffering. Right now as you read this you are probably facing difficulties of some kind.  Thankfully the Bible also teaches that the suffering we face on earth produces good in

Holy Mornings

Sunday morning is one of the most sacred moments of the week for me. Not just when we gather to worship. Although I love that of course. But I’ve also come to love so much the quiet moments when Sunday first starts. I walk through an empty church, turn the lights on, adjust the thermostat. I look at the pews and anticipate who will be here. I look at the empty spots of the people who have already passed on and are worshipping in glory today. The click of the lock, silent footsteps in the sanctuary, the hum of the lights as they warm up. Looking at the old pictures we put up of people who worship here decades ago. All of that has become so special to me. Each Sunday I wait in eager anticipation to see what God is going to do that week. I pray for people I hope to see here this morning. I pray that God would bring salvation, that God would restore marriages, bring wayward children back home, that God would bring life where it seems there is none. The past year has really taught me not

How Long Will Your Steps Last?

  Yesterday morning in the early hours at church I walked through some grass and left my foot prints in the dew. For a while someone could tell I had been there, but before long the sun came up and erased all evidence of me being there. As my footprints faded I realized that for most of us the legacies will leave behind us fade quickly like the dew. In a few generations most of the memories of us will fade except in a few family members. Like dew evaporates so does our memory of other people. But there is one way to make sure something we does lasts. By spending our lives on eternal things, Godly things, then we can be sure our work won’t fade. It’s an old saying but full of truth. “Only one life, will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

The Gifts of God

  Almost every Sunday morning I start the day by driving through our local refuge. There’s some thing about the stillness and beauty of God’s nature that helps get my heart and mind in the right place to be with God’s people. Today several of the roads around the refuge were closed because of flooding from heavy rain the last week. The rains always remind me that we cannot predict God‘s goodness to us. We might have a pretty good idea, especially now with our advanced technology, of when the rain will come. But there’s still so much uncertainty about exactly where and how much rain will fall. In the same way we might generally think that if we live in active certain way that God will be good to us. But there are times in our life that God‘s rain falls on us, in times in ways we never saw coming. His goodness and mercy comes to us, even when we don’t deserve it. The Bible promises that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. God continually gives us gifts that we do not deserve, g

A Review of The Multi-Directional Leader, by Trevin Wax

  Every pastor probably knows the feeling of facing attacks from all sides.  In our current political and religious climate it seems like extremes are more popular than ever.  In his new book " The Multi-Directional Leader" Trevin Wax demonstrates that this is precisely why the church needs leaders who are willing and able to lead on multiple fronts at the same time.  Wax argues that pastors and church leaders shouldn't only guard from the right or the left side of the spectrum, but be on the constant lookout for any belief that takes us away from the Gospel. These threats can come from within the church just as well as outside the church, so we need leadership that consistently stands for the truth, no matter which side it offends. Simply put, Wax defines multi-directional leadership as "the ability to recognize and oppose threats from multiple directions."  Each of those words in that definition are key to his understanding of the task before church leaders a

Historical Theology for the Church, Edited by Duesing and Finn

Historical Theology is not a new field of study by any stretch. Almost ever since the beginning of the church pastors and leaders have been learning from those who came before them.  In their new book to an old field, editors Jason Duesing and Nathan Finn make a substantial contribution to those who want to learn from the faithful before us.  " Historical Theology for the Church " published by B&H Academic is a needed and helpful resource for church leaders of all types. In each chapter a different author follows an area of study in theology, as it relates to that time and location. The book is broken up into four units, detailing different areas of theology in the Patristic Era, Medieval Era, Reformation Era, and the Modern Era.  Within those era's the chapters focus on different areas like the Trinity, the Church, Salvation, and Scripture.   As a local church pastor, I found this book helpful as it traced the developments of different schools of thought in the churc

Take a look at your own footprints

One of the my favorite things about the recent snowstorm was watching my kids play.  My youngest is 6 years old and had never seen real snow, and she loved every minute of it. We have been doing all we can to take advantage of it, as it doesn’t snow much in our part of Oklahoma.    More than once I told my daughter to walk in my footsteps, as the snow was deep and she’s not very tall.  The snow would have been over her boots in spots, and I did what I could to lead the way. But as she followed me she asked me “why do you walk so funny, Daddy?”  I turned around to look, and you could clearly see my big boot prints in the snow. My right foot tends to turn outwards for some reason. I’ve known I walked that way for some time due to a knee injury and other issues, but the snow made it very easy to see just what kind of footprints I was leaving.  There was no mistaking those footprints for anyone else’s.   As I watched my daughter walk in my steps I realized that she was following in more th

Don't Make The Gospel An Addition To Your Church

Recently I wandered through a church that closed down. The building was old and worn down, it’s newness wore off after decades of ministry. They sold their building to another ministry, and that group had begun removing leftover junk and preparing it for a new life.  Stripped of it’s possession and people, the church was uncomfortably bare.  The original building was quite small, but had been added on to over the years as time and need made it necessary.  The classrooms on the left were a step down from the sanctuary, and the fellowship hall in the back had been added after that. Each addition had it’s own construction style, and when you looked close you could obviously see where the original building had been added to.  You’ve undoubtedly seen a building or home like this. More space is needed so an addition is made to the back or the side, or even up top.  When you look closely it’s easy to see that one part is new or older, or tacked on the back. A window is covered up or a doorway

Hallmark Movies and the church

  There are many traditions around Christmas time.  Caroling, presents, families, and so much more are just a few of them. But if your house is like mine then a new holiday tradition has emerged: watching as many Hallmark Channel Christmas movies as a sane person can handle.  Each Christmas since 2011 the Hallmark Channel runs a string of holiday films in a row, and they have become an important tradition for many people.  Oftentimes the same people appear in multiple movies, and they always follow a predictable script.  A big city person comes to the small town and learns the true meaning of the holiday.  It also works when a small town person goes to the big city to teach others about Christmas.  Another common theme is an overworked man/woman who is too busy for love and they find it at Christmas time.  Each year it seems like hundreds of  new movies are made, but they all follow the same dozen plot lines. It’s exceedingly easy to mock these movies, and I am more or less banned from

Hand Tools and the Kingdom of God

  In 1892 in Clayton County Iowa John Froelich invented something that would soon become a staple of farms across the world.  It didn’t have a name yet but what it did was something incredible.  It was the first successful gasoline powered engine that could maneuver forwards and backwards.  Froelich had invented what came to be known as the tractor. Before this many farmers relied on steam powered engines and back breaking work to thresh wheat. Those engines were heavy and hard to maneuver, so Froelich wanted something smaller but with more power.  That first fall with his new engine his crew was able to thresh 72,000 bushels of wheat, making the new equipment a roaring success.   As long as man has had to work, he has been looking for a way to make that work easier. Everything from the first wheel, to the horse drawn plow, to the biggest satellite driven combine tractors today are an extension of that desire to make the job easier.  “Work smarter, not harder” is the mantra of many peo

It's time to hit the gas!

  Even major accidents are caused by minor things. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that every year 16,000 car crashes occur because of what they call “pedal errors.” This is when a driver’s foot slips off the brake and presses the accelerator, when they hit the gas pedal by mistake, or when the driver accidentally steps on both the brake and gas at the same time.  This happens more often to very young drivers or very old ones, but the truth is anyone is capable of a mistake like this. When you hit the wrong pedal at the wrong time you risk running into something or someone.  At the very least you might do big damage to the vehicle you are driving. Leaders of churches and organizations often make these same kinds of mistakes.  As the pastor or leader it’s our job to know when to hit the gas or when to hit the brakes, and messing them up can cause quite the spectacular crash.  There are too many stories to tell of pastors that came into a church and tr