Category Archives: ministry

No Home Down Here

It is just after midnight on Monday morning. I’m in bed, ready to go to sleep, but something is keeping me awake a little longer, and it’s the sting of something my youngest daughter said.

Haley said, “I don’t want to live in another house…I want a home.”

You see, she had come home from an over-nighter with some friends, and it was their house that got her attention. She noted the artistic way the place was decorated; the years of family photos that graced the walls; even a special area where one daughter’s paintings hung for all to see.

We live in a parsonage, the second one in ten years. The last place we lived was only a temporary stop until this parsonage was livable. All other places we’ve lived during her first 7 years of life were rentals.

The fact is, sadly, we live in a house, but we don’t have a home. My 17 year-old daughter has never lived in a place where family would always be, put down roots, and call it our own. We are nothing more than transients.

That’s the life of a bi-vocational pastor and his family, just trusting the Lord to keep a roof over our heads till we are asked to leave or God opens a door. Not very glamorous, for sure.

But, to be honest, there’s a lesson that’s not been lost on me during all this. Simply put, nothing on this earth will last forever, not even the deed to a home. No matter who we are, we’re all pilgrims in this world. As a matter of fact, living in a borrowed place down here just reminds me of how this world is not my home, I’m only passing through.

No, I don’t own a home down here, but at least I know where my real home is. One day I’ll go there, and you’re all invited. I bet my daughter will even be impressed with the way the Builder decorated it.

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Filed under Life Lessons, ministry, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials

Cold as Hell?

The other morning it was a brisk and refreshing 55 degrees on my school bus. I had not yet turned on the heaters before picking up one group of students, and that’s when one highly-intelligent, highly-literate teenage girl said,

“Damn! Turn on the heat! It’s cold as hell!”

I took no time in responding, “You know, I think hell is a little hotter than this.”

Here’s what I’m going to start doing. Every time someone uses Hell as a descriptive adjective, I’m going to consider it an open invitation to share the gospel. When someone says “cold as hell” or “hot as hell” I’m going to say something like:

“You know, it’s funny that you should say that, because from what I’ve read, specifically from those who’ve actually been there or seen it, Hell is much, much worse than you’re describing…and I’m glad I won’t have to go there! You want to know why?”

There are also those who commonly use the descriptive of “funny as hell.” To those I will reply:

“You know, what’s really funny is that something could be ‘funny as hell,’ because from what I’ve heard Hell isn’t funny at all. Do you actually believe in hell?”

Honestly, if we really want to share the gospel with people, we can find the opportunities.

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Filed under Faith, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, salvation

I’m Not a Superhero

Email Ads

I don’t know how it happens, but somehow my email gets flooded with “half-off” offers and all such craziness. Even though I delete cookies, unsubscribe to stuff, and threaten friends, people still send me links to things I can’t afford.

Now, honestly, not all of the ads are worthless. As a matter of fact, if I had the money, I’d take advantage of some of the Groupon offers. Come to think of it, I should have taken advantage of some of those coupons before my last anniversary! Dang it! Why didn’t I think of that?

Once, on Facebook, someone sent me a link to a company selling t-shirts. The one that caught their attention was one that read, “I’m a School Bus Driver. What’s your superpower?” I thought that was cool! Alas, I didn’t have $20 to spend on a t-shirt, even though I wanted it.

However, it was not long after the offer for the first t-shirt that I got another offer. This time I wasn’t so happy.

Super Pastor

Dear reader, dear friend, dear occasional stalker, etc., I am not a superhero!

photoFor those of you who may be having this read to you, to the right is a picture of the advertisement as it appeared on my cell phone. It shows a black t-shirt that has printed on the front: “I’m a PASTOR, what’s your SUPERPOWER?”

Unlike when I saw the one about being school bus driver, when I saw this t-shirt design, I didn’t laugh, smile, or even grin; it ticked me off.

Folks, I don’t even joke about this. Pastors are already placed on unwanted pedestals, live in glass houses, and are thought of as superhuman. We, along with our families, are expected to have special powers of some kind, almost like Baptist wizards, impervious to the spells of the dark lord.

But, we are not special, only our calling is. Pastors are not gifted with superpowers, and to suggest that only adds to the expectation that we can do everything perfectly, never getting tired, never mouthing off to our kids, and always having the right answer for everything.

Super Savior

The only thing I can say is that God called me to a humbling “profession.” I did not choose to do what I do; He put the desire in my heart. And unlike other careers, like bus driver, fire fighter, school teacher, etc., no amount of education, training, or experience can make us successful at what we pastors do; only the living presence of Jesus can do that.

I have no super power other than the power of Christ within me. As a matter of fact, the weaker I am – the more the “kryptonite” affects me – the more He is able to work through me (Phil. 4:13).

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 KJV

I am only human. I have no superpower. All I have is a Super Savior.

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Filed under ministry, Preaching

What We Can Do When It Hurts

UPDATE: The following post was NOT emailed to me by Donald N. Norris, but Dave Peever. Thankfully, this is the only mistake I have made today 😉

So, please check out Dave’s blog, Live 4 Him. I’m sure you will be blessed there, also.  


Guest Post by: Dave Peever

I Have Nothing to Offer

It hurts and it should. It may be my hurt or it may be someone else’s hurt that I observe, but it hurts, and it should. Still, we try to avoid it or at least address it as quickly as possible and move on. Logic does not play into it or at least cannot be used to lessen the impact. The passage of time may help but when everything seems to be going by so slow, the future is not even in the mix of thought and emotion. We wish it never happened, we hope we can somehow forget, but we know that it’s not going away. Like a rotten tooth that needs to be pulled or a wound that must be reopened and cleaned, it must be dealt with or the long-term issues will far outweigh the short term pain. It hurts and it should.

You’re a pastor, you should know what to say, how to bring comfort, how to rise above the pain.

I often wonder how people see me and others who have been called to pastoral ministry. When we are in the pulpit we are in control or at least appear that way. We tackle the tough issues head-on with Bible verses pre-selected and marked, script written and rehearsed. Everyone’s attention (we hope) is focused on us with little else competing for space in people’s thought process. We are in charge with little question about who is there to give out the answers to life’s problems. Before I go further, there are many times I haven’t felt in control in the pulpit, but by its very nature preaching creates the appearance of having it all together. Then comes the hospital visit, the funeral preparation family meeting, the pregnant unwed mother discussion, the abused wife’s plea for help or the drug or porn addiction revelation and people expect that same sermon preaching confidence. It is as if there are magic words that will make it all better and somehow the pastor is supposed to have them all stored up in his brain, ready to use at the appropriate time.

God’s word is full of comfort but God’s design does not allow us to avoid pain.

Biblical words of comfort are not the recipe for griefless living. To love someone is to invite pain into your life no matter how much they love you back. At some point something will happen that will hurt you. It isn’t always between the people in the relationship, but it is always felt by the people in the relationship. If we truly love the other person, their pain becomes our pain even if we are not directly affected. The only way to live life pain free is to ignore the Bible and never love anyone.

By calling and vocation, a pastor is placed in the middle of pain. By calling and obedience, a pastor experiences pain just like anyone who loves as Christ loves. Pastors may have a responsibility to the congregation defined in their job description but all Christ followers have an obligation to love and therefore are exposed to pain. The comfort we have and the comfort we offer is not found in the removal of hurt, pain and grief because we know the right words to say but instead it is found in the sharing of life as it happens.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15 (NIV)

You may say that you have nothing to offer because you are not a pastor, but the truth is, even though I am a pastor, we both have the same thing to offer.

I hate hospital visits as much as the next guy. I want to avoid the tears of a grieving family just like most people do. If I could miss funerals, including my own, I would. To seek out pain, physical or emotional, is not the sign of a stable person, to enjoy the depths of despair is not normal behavior. I understand that people want a pastor to be with them in their time of need and I accept that as part of my job. I may not like feeling that I can’t make the pain go away, that I am not in control and have nothing to offer, but I accept that just being there brings a level of comfort.

What I have to offer is the same as you. We all need to live out Romans 12:15 because we all, if we love like Jesus, have something to offer. Love has a cost, a price to pay. Sometimes we get to rejoice together other times we share pain but all the time we need to be there for each other. God does not leave or abandon those He loves but stays with us in part through the people He surrounds us with in our time of need. Be there for others, you can’t fix it, you can’t make it go away, that’s not the way God designed us, but you can share in the pain, help carry the burden, you have something to offer.

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Filed under blogging, Guest Posts, ministry

An Open Letter to Preachers

In honor of my late father, Terry L. Baker, the most influential preacher in my life, I dedicate this post on the 26th anniversary of his home-going.

My dad always told me, “Never go to the pulpit unless you’re mad, sad, or glad.” So, in that spirit, I would encourage you men to consider the Story you’re telling and the Message you’re sharing…if anything, it should stir you with some sort of emotion. Then, as your heart is stirred, may the cup of your emotion overflow, spilling onto your congregation as you preach with a passion and persuasion only the Holy Spirit can give.


Dear Fellow Preachers,

I’ve said most of this before, but it needs to be repeated again, and again, and again. Now’s the time – it’s actually past time – for some honest-to-goodness, strong-as-steel, George S. Patton and John Wayne-like BACKBONE!

Stand in the gap! Don’t be a politically motivated, crowd-pleasing, purse string-fearing wimp! PREACH THE WORD!

Gentlemen, more than ever what we need now are some Elijahs, some John the Baptists, another John Knox or two, and even some old-school Billy Grahams. We need more men of God who know the difference between the Word of God and a motivational speech! We need men who aren’t afraid to point a finger at sin and call it what it is…SIN!

Don’t try to be popular. Don’t try to be “cool” and “hip” with the younger generations. Quit fighting over the styles of worship if your congregation doesn’t even know HOW to worship! Forget trying to become more “seeker-friendly,” and just SEEK THE LOST! The world is going to Hell and we are greasing the skids.

Be real. Be humble. Be yourself. Love your enemies. But for the love of God, pastors and preachers, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). In other words… take off the liberal mom jeans and put on some prophet-worthy overalls and get to work!

Don’t blame the people in the pews for falling asleep…PREACH!

Don’t worry if there could be people in your congregations recording what you say…PREACH!

The Enemy would love to intimidate you; cause you to fear the press, the government, or even some bitter old gossip that complains about everything. Here’s what you need to do – PREACH!

It doesn’t matter how you feel, you’ve got a job to do, one with eternal ramifications – PREACH!

The Word of God is what has the power to change lives, restore hope, and whip the Devil – exposit it, explain it, exalt it!

You’ve got the pulpit, so use it!

PREACH!

bible

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Filed under ministry, Preaching

Amaze me again

yo-yo-312175_1280I was watching a kid at my school doing some pretty amazing things with—are you ready for this??—a yo-yo!!  It was eye-popping cool!  Not just because of his skill, but because it was so retro as to be, not just “low-tech”, but “no-tech”.  (Never mind that the toy cost $150; that’s just wrong.)

I’m waiting breathlessly for the return of the hulu-hoop…but no personal videos will be posted for readers’ enjoyment.

If there is one thing that our technological advances have done to us, it’s the removal of a sense of awe from our children.  Not our younger ones, the little guys not yet totally exposed to the marvels of their i-phones, i-goggles, and whatever other virtual realities are bombarding their brains.  But certainly by the time I get them in middle school, it takes quite a Continue reading

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Filed under Guest Posts, ministry, Parenting, Witnessing, worship

Fight On!

A word of encouragement from the “preacher.”  

“Are you fighting with the adversary today? Are Satan, the world, and the flesh, all against you? Be not discouraged nor dismayed. Fight on!… Fear not, you shall overcome, for who can defeat Omnipotence? Fight on, “looking unto Jesus;” and though long and stern be the conflict, sweet will be the victory, and glorious the promised reward.” – Charles H, Spurgeon 

Fight on, brothers! Fight on!

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, Struggles and Trials