Category Archives: ministry

The More You Know…

It’s been a while…

It has been a couple of weeks or more since I last sat down to really hammer out anything original. Most of my posts have been re-posts or shares from other blogs. However, before I leave the McDonald’s where I’m using free WiFi, I feel I’ve got to get something off my chest.

For years I studied and studied, spending lots of money and time in Bible school, college, and seminary – and I’m still learning. And even after all of that, I feel so inadequate, so unlearned, because there’s so much I still don’t know. It’s really true what they say – the more you learn, the more you know there’s more to learn.

Yet, let’s be honest – or at least honest with myself – I’m no idiot. I have been taught by some great teachers and have attended some great schools. I’ve even learned one of the greatest skills one can possess – the ability to know how to learn. So, there’s hardly any excuse for me not to know what I need to know.

And that leads me to a sobering and chilling revelation that came to me yesterday…one that I knew, but need to be reminded of…

I am going to be held accountable for what I know and what I preach and teach.

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. – 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 

I am going to have to answer to God for the proper care and feeding of His flock. I am going to have to answer for each one that gets led astray when I’m not looking. I’m going to be held accountable for their undernourishment when I should have been able to lead them to green pastures.

I’m a qualified and experienced shepherd – I have no excuses.

One deacon said to me, “We are looking forward to benefiting from your expertise.” My expertise? Of course! It was like at that moment the Holy Spirit whispered into my ear: “You have what they need…Why else do you think I would have led you here?”

On my first night after my very first day in the office (not even unpacked), I got called to the church to meet with an individual who was having serious problems that were way over my head – but not beyond what the counsel of the Word could deal with! Right there, right out of the gate, God brought to my mind what I had learned and gleaned from past experience and a victory was had in this man’s life!

Some of this may seem elementary and obvious to you. I mean, what else does it mean to be a pastor than this? But what hit me last night was the fact that now, more than ever, much has been given to me – much more than I stopped to realize – and MUCH will be required.

Looking forward to hearing “Well done” has been taken to a whole new level. 

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Filed under ministry, Preaching

Give Attention to Your Doctrine

Every once in a while I feel the need to do a little teaching. Keep in mind, many who read this blog do not go to a church, never hear a real pastor preach, nor even read a Bible. This might be the only path through which they choose to accept Biblical truth.

I just finished recording the audio for an upcoming radio broadcast. The text from which I preached was primarily the following:

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. … Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. – 1Ti 4:13, 16 KJV

One of the greatest challenges for the preacher is to make sure his doctrine is biblical, not based on human desires, such as the desire to only hear what we want to hear. I am reminded of the what Paul told Timothy in his second letter…

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. – 2Ti 4:3-4 KJV

How many people have literally “heaped to themselves” stacks of books, CD’s, cassette tapes, magazines, study guides, and DVD’s from televangelists, conference speakers, and popular authors who preach what scratches the itching ear? People want to hear what makes them feel good, more encouraged, and can lead to a more prosperous, fulfilled life. Therefore, hearing the Word of God is irrelevant, especially if it doesn’t scratch the itch

The challenge, then, is for the sincere man of God to give priority to what is true doctrine, not the doctrine of men. This takes serious study, a willingness to be led by the Holy Spirit, and an understanding that what is of the Lord might not be popular, or desired.

That’s when it’s important to be “instant in season and out of season.” God knows what we need to be spiritually healthy, so “taking heed” to our doctrine must also include the commitment to serve what what’s needed, not simply what we crave.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, God, ministry, Preaching, Theology

Going to Bethlehem

It’s already been announced on Facebook, but now it’s time to tell the story here on the blog. 

Me and my wife, along with family that joined us for the day.

This past Sunday, after a unanimous vote, the congregation of Bethlehem Baptist Church (founded 1790) in Warthen, GA, called me to be their pastor, and I accepted. That means I will be moving away from the Chattanooga/Soddy-Daisy, TN area and relocating to “Bulldog” territory (as in Georgia Bulldogs).

NOTE: It won’t be easy to get on board with the whole “bulldog” thing, but I am a certified Atlanta Braves fan, so that helps. I’ll always have orange blood.

It all started several months ago when I was contacted by the pastor search committee from Bethlehem Baptist. They had gotten my resume from the SBC database and wanted to know if I would be willing to be considered for the position. I knew I would not be the only person under consideration, and since I figured they would find someone else more qualified than me, I said it was OK. I mean, why burn any bridges, right?

Eventually, one thing led to another and I got to the point of multiple interviews, background checks, and trial sermons. I wasn’t actively seeking to leave South Soddy Baptist, but it became apparent after a while that the writing was on the wall: It was time for me to move.

This is either me preaching the trial sermon which preceded the vote, or me singing “Stop! In the Name of Love!”

South Soddy Baptist Church, along with many other people in the Soddy Daisy area, made a huge impact on our lives. Had it not been for South Soddy, I have no idea where we would be right now. God opened that door at a time when we desperately needed it, and through our last two years there He proved His faithfulness.

So, for the rest of this month and the month of July we will be attempting to wrap things up, get everything packed, and then moved to Georgia (nearly 5 hours away). My first official day in the office (yes, I will have office hours) will be August 1st.

As you have prayed for our family in the past, I would ask for your continued prayers – this will not be an easy transition.

Pray, also, that God will prepare the soil in the field to where I am going, along with sharpen my plow and fill the seed bag. Even before I get there to go to work, there is work to be done.

Being welcomed as the new pastor of Bethlehem Baptist.

This is going to be an adventure, one that will surely affect not only our lives, but the way in which I write this blog. Big changes affect little changes, like how the ripples from a big splash create smaller ripples that reflect off other things.

Thank you for being my friends and reader all these years (10th anniversary for the blog this September!). I’m just thankful that no matter where God leads, the technology He has allowed will keep us linked.

God bless you!

Anthony

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Filed under baptist, Church, ministry, Preaching

So, you want to be a pastor?

With so much being posted on social media these days, even those in ministry have available to them a plethora of helps, lists, and general advice from experienced clergy folk.

Much of what is shared on Facebook and Twitter are written by the “pro’s” in ministry research like Thom S. Rainer, or long-time veterans of ministry like Joe McKeever. What rarely gets shared are articles and posts written by ordinary guys like me – probably because we aren’t professional authors or researchers.

Well, I want to share some helpful hints from an old-school, bi-vocational, small-church, in-the-trenches pastor with no access to research teams, only personal experience, and some common sense (but Logos software doesn’t hurt).

Hopefully, you will find the following 10 points helpful.

10 Words of Wisdom for Those Entering the Pastorate

  1. Get a biblical education. Seriously, it doesn’t matter if the school is only a rag-tag, non-accredited hole in the ground, get an education from someplace that will teach you how to study the Bible by making you study the Bible. Those who call a seminary a “cemetery” are nothing more than illiterate bigots who should be avoided – unless you want to show them how to get saved.
  2. Listen to your wife. I know, sometimes wives have actually been the reason men have left the ministry. However, a good, godly wife will offer you insight that no one else can. She really does have an intuition that sees what our eyes can’t. She is also going to be the only one in the church you can trust 100%
  3. Don’t think every sermon needs to be alliterated. Guys, not every sermon is best delivered with four points, all alliterated with a certain letter or phonetic sound. Sometimes the best way to outline your sermon is just go with the way the Scripture leads.
  4. Be a sheepdog. Do whatever it takes to arm yourself with the knowledge necessary to protect not only those in your church but your own family. Be prepared to fight – literally – for those you love. Always be on the lookout for wolves in sheep’s clothing, especially sexual predators. Believe me, I wish I’d prepared better.
  5. Draw your lines in the sand early on – the earlier the better. Don’t wait for church trouble to draw your lines in the sand. Don’t wait until you are in a struggle with disagreeing leadership before you say, “This is the way it’s going to be.” Start early by saying that…be the thermostat, not the thermometer.
  6. Learn to preach without notes. There’s going to come a time when you need to preach and you won’t have time to prepare an outline. There is going to come a time when you are asked to preach a funeral or a revival service, and all you will have is your Bible. Read it…learn it…know it…and be able to preach from it without a man-made crutch.
  7. Check your pride. The day you go up to the pulpit all cocky, that’s the day you will be an utter failure. Ascend to the “sacred desk” with your knees shaking under the weight of the seriousness of what you’re doing and you will come down humble, but confident God’s Word will not return void. As long as you are humble and dependent on God, that’s when even the most basic of sermons can shake the foundations of hell itself.
  8. Don’t grow too dependent on technology. Men, there may come a day when we don’t have the internet, iPads, microphones, and projection screens. At any moment you could lose one or all of those things, so learn to prepare and to preach like the great warriors of the past – because history has a tendency to repeat itself.
  9. Love your family more than your ministry. You’ve probably heard it said before, but it’s true; your family is your first and most important ministry, not the congregation you serve. Don’t lose your wife or kids for the sake of any church.
  10. Never stop studying and learning. Even if you go to Bible school and seminary, never think you’ve learned enough. Always be learning, reading, researching, and studying. If George Washington Carver could squeeze all he did out of the lowly peanut (to the glory of God), imagine how much you will be able to find if you keep digging deeper into the Holy Writ!

So, there you have it. Do you have some words of wisdom you’d like to share? Why not write them in the comment section below? I’m sure we all could benefit from our collective experiences.

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Filed under ministry, Preaching

My Song for the Day

As some of you may know, Building 429 is one of my favorite groups of all time. Why? Because they’re the coolest Baptist musicians around 😉

. . . And their songs are solid!

. . . And I had a personal run-in with them several years ago that reminded me who I am – or who I’m supposed to be. You can read about it here.

But today I’m taking things one step at a time, trusting God to lead me down a road I’ve never been down before – but He has.

And the LORD, he [it is] that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. – Deuteronomy 31:8

The following song is a song that’s meant a lot to me over the last 3 years, and it’s becoming something of a reminder, again. So, This is my song for the day, and I want to share it with you.

. . . In two videos 🙂

I don’t know where this path is leading exactly, but I’m going to take it one step – one foot – at a time.

Have a blessed one!

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Filed under baptist, Christian Maturity, Christianity, Future, ministry, music

You Could Be the “Shift Change”

Command Staff Meetings

Some of you know that I am a chaplain with our county’s Sheriff’s office. It is a great honor to be allowed to serve our men and women in blue, for they are the ones who put their lives on the line every day for us.

Myself and Chaplains Rich Payne, Allen Lindon, and Sergio Freeman (who is also a Chaplain with the Air Force and the US Secret Service)

But about twice a year the rotation comes around and it becomes my time to speak at the Command Staff meeting. This is the meeting where the Sheriff and his captains, along with public relation heads and personal staff, meet to discuss everything from the general budget and how much should be allocated to new body armor, to the number of hits the office’s Facebook page received and when the next Presidential visit may be.

Needless to say, these meetings involve some very important, professional, and intimidating people…including a chaplain. And let me tell you, it’s one place I ALWAYS feel intimidated. But it’s always an honor.

Go to some places and you will have a hard time finding anything having to do with God in the public square. But if you were to visit Hamilton County, TN, you would find a highly professional Sheriff’s office, along with “In God We Trust” on ever county police vehicle and a time for a chaplain to open up the Command Staff meetings with a short devotional and prayer… per the Sheriff’s orders.

No Meeting Today

However, yesterday I got an email notification that this week’s Command Staff meeting was cancelled. Therefore, even though I had set aside time in my schedule, the encouraging words I was planning to share with the Sheriff and his team will have to wait till another time…

Unless I share them with YOU! 🙂

The Shift Change

A little over a month ago I suffered a heart attack. Actually, one may label it more of an “event,” not an actual full-fledged “there’s an elephant on my chest!” type of attack. Had I not gone to a hospital when I did, I might have lived through the night, but I was well on my way to assuming room temperature. I had block arteries and my heart was in distress; it was only a matter of time.

That type of heart attack is so dangerous because it doesn’t show up on an EKG. The only way you can tell you are having that type of heart attack is when blood is drawn, then drawn again, and then the Troponin levels are compared. Troponin is a cardiac marker that increases when the heart is being damaged.

On the evening that my wife and I went to the emergency room, all the usual tests were done and came back negative for a heart attack. As a matter of fact, I was dressed and ready to go home because the first doctor didn’t see any reason to keep me. However, before I was to be released, there was a shift change and the new doctor had other plans.

“Before you go,” said the doctor, “I want to run one more blood test, just to see if there have been any changes over the last couple of hours.” “That’s fine,” I replied, not expecting anything at this point.

No more than 30 minutes later the doctor came back to our little room and said, “Well, there’s been some changes…you need to see a cardiologist…. Now.”

You see, what had happened was that from the time of my last blood test my Troponin levels had doubled, indicating a serious problem. By the time I got to the hospital in Macon, GA, by ambulance, my levels had double again. By the time I was taken to surgery later that morning, they had more than doubled again.

If it had not been for a shift change, I would be dead.

You Could Be the Shift Change

Folks, you never know how God is going to use you from one minute to the next. What may start out as any other shift, that shift could be the one that make an eternal difference in the life of another.

Had that doctor stayed home or been late, I would be dead. Had that doctor decided to just let things be and not follow protocol with a new test for his own records, I would be dead. But when he came to work, he did his job, so I’m alive.

Whatever you do, do all for the glory of God. Do the best you can. Be there, be committed, and understand that you might just be the one who’s fresh perspective and energy, who’s unique abilities and instincts, could make all the difference.

Even the difference between life and death. 

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Filed under Life Lessons, ministry

A Heart Update (May 5, 2019)

I just wanted to share an update about my heart and other medical issues. 

As most of you who read this blog know, I had a heart attack a little over a month ago. That resulted in me receiving 2 stents and having to take a lot of medication – ugh!

Yesterday, I finished my first round of cardiac therapy – it wasn’t that bad, just a little trip to a nice gym where nice nurses and technicians treated me like an invalid and made me wear a heart monitor while I worked up a sweat.

I am scheduled to do therapy for two days a week, then up it to three. I may even get into shape when it’s all over!

Today I went to my cardiologist, endured a painful echo cardiogram, and, to be brief, got a good report. My heart is functioning just wonderful and there is no damage as a result of my heart incident. Hallelujah!

Now, as Paul Harvey would say, here’s the REST of the story…

I have a mass in my chest, just above my heart, close to the aorta. I will be having a PET scan sometime soon to find out if it is malignant. Regardless, because of the size and where it is, I am told it must be removed. If it is cancerous, it must be addressed sooner than later.

The only problem is that having any kind of surgery any time sooner than at least six months after a heart attack (and being on blood thinners) is a risky procedure and ill-advised. If I do have to have surgery soon, then it will require me having to be admitted to the hospital at least 5 days prior in order to be put on a drip to take me off of the Brilinta.

Nothing is easy anymore, is it?

But here’s the good news – yes, there is good news. The constant pain in my chest may be related to the mass in my chest, not my heart. Well, fact is, it’s NOT my heart! So, whatever the other thing is, once it’s removed, I will not keep having these pains that make me think my heart is hurting. That’s awesome!

Funny thing, though… the pain of the mass in my chest may have actually saved my life by getting me into the hospital to find out I was having a heart attack that I DIDN’T feel. On top of that, the heart attack may have opened the door to the early discovery of what could be cancer (hope not).

While I was in the waiting area waiting for the echo cardiogram to be done, I met an 85-year-old man named Hyman. To make a long story short, with the sweetest and calmest of temperament, he began to talk to me about life, his lack of worry, his marriage to his bride Rachael, and his life-changing faith in Jesus Christ. We had a wonderful discussion, which leads me to my final thought.

As I told the elderly saint in the waiting room, my wish is that people not necessarily pray for my healing, but for me to be a faithful witness of the love and grace of Jesus Christ while God allows me to endure whatever He has planned for me. Sure, I want to be healed, but I’d much prefer to be able to point people to Jesus.

As I told Hyman, sometimes, when the people in the hospital won’t go to church or seek after God, God sends the church to the hospital to be a witness for Him. When the hospital won’t go to church, He sends the Church to the hospital.

I appreciate your continued prayers… and pray for Rachael, Hyman’s wife. He really loves her. 

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Church, Faith, Life Lessons, ministry, Struggles and Trials