Stick a Fork in June, it’s D-O-N-E!

Stick a Fork in June, it’s D-O-N-E!

This post completes the 2018 June Blogging Challenge! There was a new post every day in June. I must admit it is a small accomplishment, but an achievement none the less. I have learned celebrating the little victories motivates me to press on to the more considerable triumphs.

Why did I set this goal? It’s all summed up in the word: discipline. I tend to have too many “good ideas” when it comes to writing. I chase after them like an indecisive bird dog flushing out a covey of quail. I suffer from A.D.D. However, I am not talking about Attention Deficit Disorder, but instead, I have Acute Deficiency of  Discipline. I have a problem with placing my butt in the chair and writing. This self-imposed challenge, although my content varied, forced me to sit and write with consistency.

The consistency of posting daily strengthened my “writing muscles.” These blog posts were extra created content. I typically preach three times a week, and a majority of these sermons are written as a full manuscript. I find it helpful after outlining a sermon to write myself clear, so when I approach the pulpit I have wrestled with the text all week.  I know the meaning for the people then, and I have the message for God’s people now. Therefore, this challenge was very challenging at times. But its over. Done. Finished. I have conquered June.

However, I confess I did not do it alone. You – the readers – were in my study or beside me on the couch encouraging me to keep pecking away at this keyboard. I thought of you often as I pushed against the resistance of the blinking cursor. Thank you for taking this journey with me. Thank you for liking, commenting, and sharing my words with others. It means more to me than I can express.

Moreover, I would be amiss not to mention my biggest supporter in this world. Red, thank you for not killing me when I disturbed your sleep as I slid out of bed at five o’clock in the morning to pray and write. We all know how much you enjoy mornings. I appreciate the grace extended to me when I was working late to meet the deadline of the day.

Red, believe it or not, you inspired this month’s adventure. Over the years, I have watched you hone your craft and become a phenomenal photographer by challenging yourself to be better. You may not remember the conversation – I know there are so many – but when I told you I wanted to become an author I was gauging myself. I wondered if I had what it takes to pursue this dream. I understand now, although my aspiration is lofty, I have God and you on my side. I know both of you believe in me. Watching you and having you in my corner, I know I will succeed by God’s grace. With you, I am a better me. Again, thank you for believing in me. Even when I have too many “good ideas” that wake me before daybreak.

So where do I go from here? I am committed to becoming a better writer; to find my voice. This challenge has revealed that I can carve out the time needed to write and still fulfill my other obligations. Yes, I may need to drink more coffee, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.

In the future, I will not be posting daily. However, rest assured I am writing. Now, my challenge is to use the daily writing habit established this month to work on my first novel. Watch your inbox because I may post a sample chapter soon. As far as the blogging, the posts will slow to a weekly rhythm instead of the daily hustle. I hope you have enjoyed the June Blogging Challenge as much as I have but stick a fork in June, it’s D-O-N-E!

 

 

5 Lessons for Ministry from the Tobacco Patch

5 Lessons for Ministry from the Tobacco Patch

You’ve never itched until you’ve cropped “sand lugs” from a worn and wet fiberglass seat on a tobacco harvester. “Sand lug” leaves grow near the bottom of the stalk and are covered with dirt and grime. Pulling these leaves from the stalk and passing them through the conveyor belt to the”panner” causes the sand to work its way into some unseemly spots. Like I said you’ve never itched until you’ve cropped “sand lugs” from a fiberglass seat that needed replacing three seasons ago.

Growing up in the south my summer days were filled with an itching bottom and a red neck. I spent my summer vacation cropping tobacco (it’s pronounced tah-backer in the south). In the mornings, we would unload a barn of cured leaves. We emptied the tobacco into burlap sheets to make it ready for the market. (The aroma of dried tobacco leaves still lingers in my mind.) When the barn was empty, we would head to the fields to fill it up again. Although it was only a few weeks out of the summer, it seemed like a neverending cycle. But I am grateful for the lessons I learned in those fields. Experiences, which prepared me for a life in ministry. Here are five lessons I learned and how they relate to gospel ministry:

  1. A grain of sand in the wrong spot will make you miserable, but keep on cropping because things tend to work themselves out.

    In ministry, you will be rubbed the wrong way by things that really don’t matter. You will feel it’s unbearable. However, you can let the little situations prevent you from working for the Lord. Keep cropping. It will work itself out.

  2. When it gets hot, learn to pace yourself.

    Temperature affects your production. If you’re facing a season of heated confrontation, remember not to run full speed ahead, or you’ll get burnt. The pressures of ministry will cause even the most seasoned worker to burnout. Slow down and pace yourself.

  3. Enjoy the simple pleasures in life (like an RC Cola and MoonPie).

    Nothing was more satisfying than a twelve-ounce soda and a snack at break-time in the fields. You’re not designed to work nonstop. Take time to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

  4. If you disagree with someone, get it right before the end of the row.

    In the tobacco patch, teenage boys (and girls too) would often argue back and forth while on the harvester. Everyone knew if the matter was not resolved by the end row things could escalate into an all-out fight. In ministry, you’re going to have disagreements, but make things right before it gets out of hand.

  5. Always help others gather their crops.

    The farming community where I grew up helped each other. I remember times when one crew was finished but went to help another farmer to get his harvest in on time.  As a minister, I should never leave my fellow pastor to work alone. Christians should help others.

Again these are only a few correlations between the tobacco patch and ministry. I am sure there are more, but these will do for now. What about you? Did God use a former job or situation to shape you for ministry? I would love to hear your story in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Love My Church Family

I Love My Church Family

It’s the 24th day of my June Blogging Challenge. So what am going to write about today? My mind keeps drifting to my flock at West Green Baptist Church. I am privileged to pastor these people. They’re not perfect. They are broken people, but I have jagged edges too. Nevertheless, we are traveling this road of faith together.

We are learning to be gracious to each another as we continue to conform to the image of Christ. I love them for their honesty. I love the fact they allow me to be honest with them. Of course, we still wear some fig leaves, but we’re learning and growing in our intimacy.

I know some deny the importance of church family, but I cannot imagine my life without my church. I am their undershepherd who cherishes having the smell of sheep on my clothes. If you’re a pastor, you understand. It is the most demanding occupation at times. However, it is one of the most rewarding challenges in my life.

My church family inspires me to be my best. Keeps me accountable. Encourages me. Challenges me. They do life together with me. I am grateful. West Green Baptist, if you’re reading this, I love walking this journey called life with you.

What about you? Where do you fellowship? I would like to hear from you. If you’re reading this and do not have a church home, would you consider West Green Baptist? We not perfect, but we’re growing together in Christ.

 

A Graciously Good Father

A Graciously Good Father

Listen (In Browser)

  1. God is good to the wayward child (vv. 12-24)

    1. God is good to the wayward by His generosity. (v.12)
    2. God is good to the wayward by His patience with them. (v. 12, 20).
    3. God is good to the repenting wayward child because of His compassion for them (v. 20-21)
    4. God demonstrates his goodness by graciously restoring the wayward son. (v. 22-24)
  2. God is good even to the self-righteous child. (v. 25-31)

    1. God is good to the self-righteous child by his generosity too. (vv. 12, 31)
    2. God is good to the self-righteous child because He offers compassion too. (v. 28)
    3. God is good to the self-righteous child by having patience too. (v. 31)
  3. Whether we admit it or not we are all wayward children.

This sermon originated from the pulpit of West Green Baptist Church in West Green, Georgia where Kevin Bounds serves as Senior Pastor. Did you enjoy the message? Let us know in the comment section below. Also, please feel free to like and share with friends and family.

Preacher or Writer? The Internal Struggle

Preacher or Writer? The Internal Struggle

Am I a preacher who writes? Or a writer that preaches? To some, this may be an unnecessary division, but for many, this is a serious question of calling. I know it has been for me. This post will explore this question and give my personal reasoning of why I am a preacher who writes. (Notice, the emphasis on the word personal. Every person has a particular calling they must find and embrace. This post is my take on my unique calling.)

I desired to be a writer long before being called to the public proclamation of God’s Word. It’s hard to believe at one time; I was terrified of public speaking. I recall standing behind a podium at a technical college shaking with fear before an audience of about ten peers. I am confident my fingernails left indentions in the podium. It was the longest five minutes of my life.

I feared public speaking because I fumbled with words (I still do). I could always express myself better through the medium of writing. I am no longer afraid of speaking in front of a crowd, but I still feel like I write better than I talk.

In the third grade, I was nominated to attend the Young Author’s Conference. Although tonsillitis forced me to leave the meeting early, I was able to hear the children’s author, Avi, speak. This experience planted the idea of me becoming an author. (On a side note, I think my wife attended the same conference.)

During High School, I was an awkward fellow. Antisocial and bitter, I spent time writing poetry. It was my therapy. It helped make sense of all the thoughts and emotions in my brain. My mother took noticed and encouraged me to submit my work to a poetry contest. In the end, one of my poems was published in a collection album.

These events, along with others, made me think I would live with paper and pen in a remote cabin. However, God had other plans. God’s ways do not always make sense to us ( see Proverbs 3:5-6).

When I dedicated my life to Christ, on December 16, 2001, I assumed I would begin to write as a Christian writer. I desired to be a novelist (I still do.) As I started surrendering my plans to God’s sovereign rule, I felt the Spirit press me to preach and lay aside my dreams of becoming an author. I was not to write (or not yet). God even lead me to burn a book of poetry I penned before my conversion. I was no longer the person who wrote these pieces. These poems were, in a sense, the old me.

There was a time whenever my eyes closed; I would see the word, PREACH. I knew God was calling me. Kicking and screaming I submitted to God’s prompting. However, I knew God would somehow give me the go-ahead to writing…one day. It wasn’t until pursuing my undergraduate degree that I felt a release to write. I am convinced God led me to lay, my Isaac of writing, down on His altar. I was to write, but solely for his glory. My motive changed from seeing my name on a book cover to glorifying  Him.

So why do I feel that I am a preacher who writes instead of a writer who preaches? Again, this may be a trivial distinction to some, but in my case an essential difference. I wish I could find the words to convey how I know that I am to pursue preaching over my writing but I cannot. All I can say is, it’s about obedience for me. 

Last week, in my reading of Haddon W. Robinson’s Biblical Preaching, I came across a paragraph that spoke volumes about this topic. He writes,

Paul was a writer. From his pen we have most of the inspired letters of the New Testament, and heading the list of his letters is the one to the Romans. Measured by its impact on history, few documents compare with it. Yet when Paul wrote this letter to the congregation in Rome, he confessed, “I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Rom.1 :11-12 RSV). Paul realized that some ministries simply cannot take place apart from face-to-face contact. Even the reading of an inspired letter will not substitute. “I am eager to preach the gospel to you… who are at Rome” (1:15 RSV). A power comes through the preached word that even the written word cannot replace. 1 [Boldened emphasis mine]

I consider myself a preacher-writer because the primary medium for salvation is through the foolishness of preaching (See 1 Corinthians 1:21). Nevertheless, I will preach, and I will write all for the glory of God.

What about you? Do you preach and write too? How do you distinguish the two? Or you may have another calling altogether. I would like to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.

 

  1. Haddon W. Robinson, Biblical Preaching. 3rd Ed. I(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic) 2014. 3