Are We Pressing Ahead or Falling Behind?

two-way-signLooking across the field at the opponent, it was easy to feel confident. After all, the advance scouts had done their homework, assessed the opposing side’s strengths and weaknesses, and determined this was victory for the taking. Show up, execute the plan, and walk away with the usual rout.

Only problem was, this time it wasn’t the underestimation of the opponent’s ability that led to resounding defeat. It was the underestimation of the dominant “team’s” pride and arrogance.

No, I’m not talking about college football, although you see it every week when a powerhouse plays an obvious underdog. Some days the underdog manages an upset and potentially destroys the favored team’s chances of a national championship. However, I’m talking about the Israelite army as it prepared to attack the city of Ai ( Joshua 7). Joshua sent out his scout team and it came back extremely confident, telling Joshua he only needed to send 2,000 to 3,000 men, saying, “Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.”

What resulted was a rout of Israel’s army, and a significant lesson for us as Tennessee Baptists as we pursue the Five Objectives we as Tennessee Baptists have adopted in an attempt to see our state radically changed spiritually over the next nine years.

Joshua and the people had just come off a major victory over the extremely fortified city of Jericho. As they looked at that city, it appeared to be an impossible task. How were they going to penetrate the thick, double-walled fortress? Their army and its weapons were simply inadequate. They recognized their inadequacies and depended on God’s leadership and His strength. As a result, He ensured the victory.

However, when it came time to move against Ai, the people committed three sins that guaranteed their defeat and offer a warning to us.

The presence of arrogance. Think about it; it was probably heady stuff to march around a city and shout and see the massive stone wall crumble to the ground. They walked in, destroyed everything, and recorded an easy win. However, they forgot God when it came to Ai and decided to do it in their own strength. They paid a high price for attempting God’s work in their way.

The presence of sin. Looking at Joshua 7:1, we see that Achan and his family sinned by disobeying God’s command to destroy everything. The fortune literally scattered throughout Jericho’s rubble was a temptation he couldn’t resist. He stole what was dedicated to God and it ultimately destroyed him and his family. In the interim, it cost his nation a victory, cost the lives of several of his countrymen, and brought humiliation to Israel. Israel paid a high price for attempting God’s work with spiritually “dirty hands.”

The absence of God. God did not go out with the army that fateful day. Joshua, an obviously godly man, acted on human counsel and never asked God His opinion of their plan. The people forgot God. They paid a high price for attempting God’s work without God.

Let’s be honest. We too often are guilty of these same three things. We press ahead rather than follow behind. I confess, hoping to see 50,000 people each year come to Christ, be baptized, and set on the road to discipleship; hoping for 500 churches to be revitalized and 1,000 new churches to become a part of the TBC; and hoping to see substantial giving increases in both the Cooperative Program and the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions are unattainable goals in our own power. We absolutely need God to go before us and win the victory. However, as we see success, will we as Tennessee Baptists forget God? Will we begin to think more of our abilities and let arrogance creep in? Will we sin by touching His glory? With all my heart I pray we’ll be vigilant to avoid Israel’s three sins.

I challenge you as individuals, then collectively as churches, to search your hearts and ask God to reveal your sin. Repent and pursue God in obedience. I then challenge you to seek God, asking Him to show you where beyond your church you can reach people now with the Gospel. Let’s dedicate Tennessee to Christ for His glory, and then let’s follow Him into the field to reap the harvest.

It is a joy to be on this journey with you.

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Appreciate Your Pastor, Especially in October


Senior pastor reading, meditating and searching spiritual light

I can’t think of a single good reason why anybody would want to be in pastoral ministry if God hasn’t called him. But if God has called, I can’t think of any vocation more rewarding.

And don’t equate rewarding with easy. Being a pastor is not easy. It’s hard, and frankly it isn’t for the faint of heart. The hours are long and the work can drain you physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually; sometimes all at the same time. Most people have never stood over the casket of small child and tried to bring comfort to a grieving family while having your own heart ripped out in grief.

I have. That was a hard day.

Sometimes pastors cry out to the Lord and say they can’t take any more. Some days, they just want to quit. And then God does it. He sends someone to your pastor just to say, “Thank you.” Maybe it is a thank you for ministering to someone’s family, or visiting someone in the hospital, or praying with someone about a wayward son or daughter, or for offering a bit of biblical counsel, or something else. God takes that expression of gratitude and works it into the soul of a pastor as a balm of encouragement, and that encouragement is just what he needed to remind him of the great calling he’s been given to serve God and His People.

October is pastor appreciation month. I believe it is a great practice to appreciate your pastor every month, but I want to encourage you to use this occasion to pour out love, appreciation and a heaping of respect to your pastor, his wife, and their children; and don’t forget the other ministers on staff if you are in a multi-staff church, Believe me, an encouraged pastor and staff will only help your church, will honor the Lord, and will be an obvious blessing to your pastor. Not sure what to do? Here’s a hint: Make it tangible; make it count.

There are several reasons why we should honor our pastors in this way. First, God has called your pastor and placed him in a definite place of leadership. The Lord says in Jeremiah 3:15, “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart.” God’s intention in calling your pastor is so that you’d have someone leading you pastorally whose heart is in tune with God, which means someone who has your best interest and spiritual growth near his own heart.

Beyond nurturing your spiritual growth, here is another tangible benefit of your pastor’s ministry and why we should bless him. Adult male wearing a hearing aid.Do you want your kids to stay in church as they grow older? In his research on why Millennials stay in church, theologian and author, Steve Parr, found that more than 70 percent of them who remain in church do so because of the relationship they had with their pastor during their formative years. They respected and appreciated him. And remember, you contribute to the formation of their impression of your pastor. Speak of the positive characteristics and faithfulness of you pastor and they will see him as someone to respect. Have fried preacher for Sunday dinner, and not so much.

As a pastor, I am personally thankful for so many of the laypeople in our churches who understand the calling of God on the lives of their pastors and ministers. Paul calls on us in 1 Thessalonians 5:12 to “remember” our pastors. In verse 13 he says to “honor them in love.” Even as I think about this I can see the faces of so many through more than 30 years of pastoral ministry who extended some act of kindness to Jeanne and me. How that encouraged us and inspired us to love “our” people even more for the glory of Christ and for the ministry to the saints.

It truly is a joy to be on this journey with you.

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Reaching Tennessee’s Missions Field Through GOTM

GOTM_logo When Eric Watkins strides into one of the most dangerous housing projects in Memphis to take the light of Christ, Tennessee Baptists go with him. When Kent Hightower stands in
the loose dirt of a rodeo arena in Morristown and preaches the gospel, Tennessee Baptists are with him. When Doylene and Ritchie Farley distribute food to hundreds of families in one of Tennessee’s most impoverished counties, Tennessee Baptists are there too.

Tennessee Baptists financially giving through the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions are fueling the missions fires across our state. From the inner city of Memphis, to the hills and hollows of Middle and East Tennessee, to Baptist Collegiate Ministries on 24 campuses across our state, Tennessee Baptists — you — are touching lives with the love of
Christ and making an eternal difference. In fact, during the 2014-2015 year you gave the second highest GOTM amount ever recorded, totaling $1,626,579.33! And that is just a little more than $23,000 short of our goal for the year. That’s an increase each of the past two years.

150812ericwatkinsFrom the deepest chambers of my pastor’s heart and with immense gratitude, I say, “Thank you.”

For those who may not know, the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions is how Tennessee Baptists support a broad diversity of missions work here in our state. The GOTM is to Tennessee what the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is to international missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering is to North American missions, and every cent of that offering goes to reach Tennessee for Christ. The offering is named for W. C. and Mildred Golden. Mr. Golden was a former executive director of the TBC and he and Mrs. Golden would hand write letters to churches asking them to make a special offering to support an in-state missions effort to address the state’s deep spiritual needs.

Now, more than 100 years since the Golden’s felt compelled to call Tennessee Baptists to action, your participation is needed more than ever — and you are responding. As you may know, seeing the Golden Offering increasing to $3 million annually by 2024 is the Fifth of the Five Objectives strategy we as Tennessee Baptists have affirmed. Why such a lofty goal? Looking at our first three objectives you’ll see that we as Tennessee Baptists are focusing on seeing an increase in evangelism, baptism, discipleship, revitalized churches, and new churches affiliating with the TBC. These we call our “reaching objectives.” Cooperative Program and GOTM giving are our “resourcing objectives.”

But why focus on these Great Commission areas? Truth is our state is growing more spiritually lost by the day. People often think of Tennessee as the Buckle of the Bible Belt. We are anything but. More than six out of 10 people in our state currently have no relationship with Jesus Christ and eight out of 10 are in no one’s church on Sundays. If trends continue, statistically nine out of 10 of our children born since 9/11 will grow to adulthood spiritually lost. Across Tennessee, 91 of 95 counties experience double-digit poverty and all the issues related to poverty such as low graduation rates, high teen pregnancy rates, high unemployment, and high drug use. One out of every four children in our state lives in an extreme poverty situation. Unbelievably, there are more than 140 different global people groups now living in Tennessee, 46 from groups that are less than two percent globally evangelized.

Ncowboychurch1080jpo doubt, any way you slice it, Tennessee is a missions field.

When you support the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions (and the Cooperative Program), you are supporting our network of TBC missions and ministry opportunities that directly attack these great spiritual and physical needs. We direct your offerings to the most desperate situations across our state. It is my privilege to report that together we are making a difference.

I mentioned Eric and Kent, Doylene and Ritchie, but the stories of how your giving is making a difference go on and on. I invite you to visit and watch the video stories of how your giving last year has already made a difference in people’s lives. While there, check out the other available resources to support your church’s Week of Prayer emphasis coming up Sept. 13-20.

Let’s be bold — and audacious — and aim for a 10 percent increase for 2015-2016. I have no doubt your sacrificial giving this year will reap an eternal reward that I look forward to reporting to you this time next year.

It is truly a joy to be on this journey with you.

Note: Visit to watch and download video stories on Eric, Kent and more and see how your GOTM giving is having a positive impact on Tennessee. 

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Would You Pay You What You Pay Your Pastor?

Pastor youngNew Hope Baptist Church in Leakesville, Miss., knew they were overpaying their 20-year-old preacher. He knew it too. At $125 a week, neither was real sure of what they were getting into. However, those sweet people were patient, kind, nurturing, and at every turn looked for ways to take care of their preacher boy and his new bride. For instance, there was the Christmas they gave his wife an oak coffee table and matching end tables, and gave him a Remington 1100 vent ribbed shotgun. Why? Just to tell that young couple, “We love you and appreciate you and your ministry to us.”

Jeanne and I have moved on from New Hope in these 34 years of pastoral ministry, but we’ve never forgotten the generosity shown us by people who are still dear to us. And by God’s grace, other churches along the journey have always been conscientious in taking care of my family and that of other staff members. Each church has done its best to tangibly live out the biblical instruction that, “A workman is worthy of his hire.” In every church, a respected and godly layman would lead the way to make sure that serving that church through ministry was a blessing and not a financial burden to the pastor and staff. And true to form, God always blesses generosity.

It is budgeting time in many Tennessee churches. Decisions are being made about missions, ministry, and staffing for the coming year. It’s an important time filled with great responsibility. After all, budget and finance committees are making decisions regarding the stewardship of God’s given resources. As part of that process, I want to encourage all of those making budget decisions to look carefully at the needs of the pastor (and staff if you’re in a church large enough to have additional staff).

I recognize every church is different and there are circumstances financially relative to individual churches, but here are six thoughts to consider when assigning dollars to line items.

(1) What is your pastor’s base salary? How long has it been since he has received an appropriate raise? Let’s face it; a significant majority of the people serving in a local church aren’t in it for the money. They are “in it” because God has called them out to shepherd a local body of believers. However, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t receive a fair wage and increases as appropriate. There is already a significant amount of stress in caring for those God has given to the pastor. A church can minimize the financial stress he feels in caring for his own family.

(2) Do you pay your pastor in a lump sum where he has to pay his insurance, ministry related expenses, and retirement out of that same amount? Don’t do it. There are some IRS implications related to that and there is no benefit to him or the church. Frankly, it gives a false impression of what you’re actually paying your pastor and I’m almost certain that is not how you’d like to be compensated either.

(3) Are you accounting for other church-related expenses such as adequate amounts for conferences, mission trips, auto allowance, insurance, retirement, and resources such as a library allocation? Look at it this way: You want to invest in your pastor so that he can be the best “equipper” he can be of your church body. You wouldn’t expect a carpenter to build your house without adequate tools and these types of expenses supply the tools your pastor needs to help build the church body. 

(4) Does your church provide upkeep on property if your pastor lives in a church-owned home? Just take care of it without being overly restrictive. Allow the pastor’s wife to make it her “nest” for her family. Believe me when I say that one of the greatest ministries a pastor’s wife can offer a church is to make sure the family’s home is a calm place for her family. That’s what you want for your family too, right? Please don’t make her jump through a half-dozen hoops or and have the church vote on whether she can change the 40-year-old draperies.

(5) Do you financially plan for a pastor/staff appreciation day? This doesn’t have to be elaborate, but do you have some intentional and planned way for the church to celebrate those who serve the congregation. A little thank you goes a long way to encouraging ministers.

(6) Would Jesus be pleased with what you’ve done? Budgeting a pastor’s salary is obviously done within the financial means of the church’s overall budget, but as you’ve prayed about compensating your pastor (and staff), would you be satisfied if that were the “package” being offered to you? Would you pay you what you pay your pastor? Could you meet your financial obligations and care for your family based on what you’re offering? It is a Golden Rule kind of thing. God takes note of generosity — always. 

As you are navigating your budget process, keep in mind that we here at the TBC, thanks to your gifts through the Cooperative Program, offer conferences and information on compensation planning, and additional information can also be obtained through Guidestone.

It is a joy to be on this journey with you.

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Celebrating the ‘One’ Baptism

BaptismBaptists love baptisms. Baptisms are part of our DNA. We know people are coming to Jesus when the baptismal waters are stirred, and that stokes our engines. We love the stories about large numbers of people coming to Christ during revivals, whether overseas or here in the states. Being present on the Day of Pentecost would have been a Baptist’s dream day.

Two years ago we celebrated Long Hollow Baptist Church (Hendersonville) becoming the first church in Tennessee Baptist Convention history to see 1,000 people in one year won to the Lord, baptized, and set on the road to discipleship. What a great example of effective evangelism and intentional discipleship. May Longhollow’s passion to reach the spiritually lost spread like wildfire!

But let me ask you; do you still get as excited about the single baptism as you do the bunches of baptisms? Do you value the one as much as the many?

The adopted goal of our network of Tennessee Baptist churches is to see at least 50,000 Tennesseans annually come to Christ, be baptized and set on the road to discipleship by the year 2024. While that goal looks impractical and impossible, it is imperative that we pursue it. We need to annually reach that many people with the gospel to even keep up with Tennessee’s projected population growth over these next nine years. That figure is currently more than twice the number of baptisms we are currently seeing annually in Tennessee. How will we ever get there? The answer is simple: one precious person at a time.

Unfortunately, I occasionally hear pastors say that “(blank number) of SBC churches baptized only one person last year.” Really? Only one? Is it a failure to baptize “only” one? iStock_000020889149_SmallWhat if that one was your best friend? Or your son? Or your daddy? Or the most notorious drug dealer in your community? Or the next great missionary?

We know that one person matters. Jesus explains the importance of “one” in the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18:12-13. There is great rejoicing over the one, and if Jesus laid down His life for the one, then we should pursue the one with vigor.

I do believe we as Baptists have focused at times on the drive for baptisms as a means to an end, and the end being increased membership numbers rather than increased disciples. We can fall into the trap of measuring ourselves against others. I also am certain that our smaller churches, those that may have baptized “only” one or “just a few,” are perceived as second-class churches because their “numbers were so small.”

How about this? Let’s just agree we are going to stop masking our pride and our unspoken competitiveness and truly celebrate that one person who walks the center aisle at that small traditional church out in the country as much as the hundreds who do the same at a more affluent suburban church. Honestly, my concern is not that that small church baptized “only” one person, my concern is the number of churches in the Tennessee Baptist Convention that didn’t baptize any. 

Here is my burden. I love the church, I love her people, and I love the spiritually lost. I desperately want to see the three of these connect in a deeply meaningful way. Unfortunately, too many of our churches are in atrophy. Let’s not overcomplicate this. It does not take a church growth expert to know that the single, most effective strategy for church revitalization is for churches to engage their communities in meaningful ways that build relationships that lead people to salvation, baptism and discipleship.

Churches that die or are dying are the ones that do not get beyond their walls to go find even one. Every community in our state has a “One.” In fact, with nearly seven out of every 10 Tennesseans spiritually lost, every community has a bunch of “Ones.”

If you are in one of those churches whose baptismal waters haven’t been stirred in a while or not as often as you’d like, contact me. Your Cooperative Program giving supports TBC missionaries whose calling is to help and serve you. It would be our joy to explore with you ideas for how your church can enjoy the sweet fruit of reaching your community for Christ. If everyone won one, what a wonderful world this would be!

It’s a joy to be on the journey with you.

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God and Assisted Suicide: What’s the Answer?

The scenario plays itself out thousands of times a day. A family member or friend is racked with a terminal illness, suffering unbearably and the question comes up: Should they have the right to physician assisted suicide?

That question gained prominence 20-plus years ago with Dr. Jack Kevorkian being brought to trial for helping approximately 130 others end their lives. Right to die activists are back in the news with 84-year-old John Jay Hooker, a lawyer and former Tennessee democratic gubernatorial candidate who is suffering with terminal cancer leading the charge. He is demanding that a state court declare he has a right to end his life on his terms. In truth what he’s looking for is an accomplice to share in the responsibility of his death.

Unbelievably, the demand for assisted suicide is aggressively on the march. Euthanasia is currently illegal in 45 states, but 25 of those states have seen bills filed during their respective 2015 legislative sessions to legalized assisted suicide. Tennessee is one of those states. But what Mr. Hooker, the courts and other advocates of assisted suicide fail to recognize is God alone has the authority to give life and take it, not a human.

I do not make that statement lightly. I stood by my stepfather’s hospital bed last week as he faced brain surgery to remove a brain tumor and blood clot. I was there with my mom who is battling Parkinson’s Disease. My grandfather – my hero – suffered greatly with lung cancer. I’ve stood by hundreds of bedsides of family and friends in 30-plus years of pastoral ministry and agonized in prayer over people I have loved dearly. I am more acquainted with legal_gaveldeath and suffering than I would have ever voluntarily chosen to be.

The conversation about assisted suicide is wrapped in emotion. Sometimes it is economic when looking at the cost of long-term care. I’ll be honest, some of the situations I’ve stood over have rocked me to the core of my theology. However, right theology must dictate responses to circumstances. We must not allow circumstances to compromise biblical teaching. I am categorically opposed to assisted suicide and here are the three theological pillars that brace me during soul-shattering moments at death’s door.

Suffering is unavoidable. Look around. If you ever wanted a reason to hate sin, look at its effect on God’s creation. Jesus, Paul, Peter, James and John all address suffering in the New Testament and it isn’t exclusively related to persecution. Job in the Old Testament is where our minds immediately turn when we think of suffering. But look again at Jesus. He could have avoided suffering – He even asked the Father to “take this cup” from Him. But in the end he embraced the suffering for a higher purpose.

I had – and constantly have – to resolve that suffering is part of our Christian walk and we are called to persevere in faith, for the glory of God. We are told in 1 Peter 4 to embrace suffering, “so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world.”

God is good…all the time. Job says it best when he asked, “Do we only accept the good from God and not the bad?” (Job 2:10). Think about this, Scripture tells us “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). We also read in Romans 8:28 that God works all things for our good, but how can suffering be for our good? The answer is in how we direct our suffering for God’s glory. This anecdote explains.

Jeannie Elliff, wife of former International Mission Board President Tom Elliff, fought cancer until she succumbed last week. It wasn’t an easy road. In reflecting on her battle, Erich Bridges, senior writer for the IMB wrote this of Jeannie. “While in the Trustmidst of her final struggle with cancer in recent months, she took the time to encourage my wife (who also has been dealing with cancer) and me. Jeannie encouraged and prayed for countless people over the years; cancer only expanded her ministry.”

God worked His goodness through Jeannie Elliff to deliver His grace, mercy and encouragement. No doubt she experienced, “the wonderful joy of seeing His glory” when she arrived in heaven.

God is sovereign, and we have no right to usurp that. Isaiah 46 states, “I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” A few verses later we read, “For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” Jesus is the Author of all life (Acts 2:10; Colossians 1). Psalm 139 tells us that God ordained the number of our days. Jeremiah 29 tells us He knows the plans He has for us. And on it goes.

The Bible comprehensively establishes God as the sole authority over creation, life and death. He does everything with the purpose of completing the good work He began in us at our salvation. He intends to receive glory through our journey. That is why every breath of life is precious, and exactly why it is not our place to determine our last breath.

Yes, it is sometimes a rough journey through this life, which is why we need to encourage each other’s faith all the way to the finish line.

It is a joy to be on this journey with you.


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From My Pastor’s Heart

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had been key players in one of history’s most significant dramas in the founding of the United States. Years had passed since that sunrisefateful July 4 Independence Day. Now, they were two stately gentleman near the end of their lives exchanging letters and reflecting on bygone days.

“My friend,” Adams wrote to Jefferson. “You and I have lived in serious times.”

It has been my joy over these past five years as executive director to walk closely with Tennessee Baptist pastors and ministers – no doubt, some of the greatest people on this planet. I say to you, “Friends, you and I live in serious times.”

The culture across our nation and throughout our state is changing rapidly before our eyes. I don’t believe any of us would have projected five years ago that we’d see the monumental societal shift in issues like same-sex marriage. Know this: I’ve been praying passionately for my brothers and sisters involved in vocational and lay ministries. You are all on the frontlines of a spiritual war. You are fighting for the spiritually lost souls of family, friends and your communities. At my core I’m a pastor, and from this pastor’s heart, please hear a deeply sincere, “Thank you.”

I want to do more than just say thank you however. I offer this column as an opportunity to provide seven simple – yet strong – words of encouragement.

  1. Be very encouraged. Joshua was standing on the banks of the river, the new leader of the nation of Israel and heading into a culturally pagan land. God spoke clearly. “Be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left…” (Joshua 1:7). God’s word to Joshua was clear: I’ve got this! He’s also got us too so be strong and courageous.
  1. Be prayer warriors. Practice what you preach. Pray systematically, regularly and passionately.The prayers of a righteous man still avail much, and I am firmly convinced God hears our prayers, sees our hearts and is determined to act on behalf of His people. But we must pray.
  1. Preach with anointing. This is no time for preachers of the gospel to be cute in their communication. They need to be powerful in their proclamation, passionate in their biblical conviction, humble in their ministry and straightforward in their clarity. A broken-hearted, compassion minister is a powerful combination in the hands of God.
  1. See our children. Our youngest generation is growing up in a world that is radically different from just 10 years ago. They desperately need to be biblically equipped. We must intentionally disciple them and clearly point them to the precepts of the Bible. We must equip Childtheir parents to be the primary disciple-makers of their children. We cannot, must not, lose our youngest generation to this world.
  1. Connect with others. You’re not alone. We have a strong network of like-minded ministers and churches found in our associations and our Tennessee Baptist Convention. We are unified around to authority of the Bible and share a Great Commission calling. Let’s lean on and love each other. Let’s help each other contend for the faith!
  1. Love your family. Seriously, love your family. Your primary ministry is your family so pay close attention to each member. Noah got his family on the Ark and they were saved. Don’t sacrifice your family on the alter of ministry. That is not a badge of honor. Your family needs your loving leadership.
  1. Keep on fishing! I have a painting in my office of a fisherman with his nets lowered into stormy waters under ominous skies. Anyone else relate? We seem to be tossed by the cultural seas, don’t we? Yet our God has placed us here at this time to be salt and light in a spiritually dark world. I firmly believe if we’ll keep casting our nets of evangelism He’ll keep filling them with a harvest of souls.

So, my charge to you is, be encouraged. Stay the course. Cast your nets. Love others well. Be humble. Preach the full counsel of God. Pray often. Have faith. And remember, God is still very much on His throne.

It is my joy to be on this journey with you.

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