When They Walk Away

  We all know someone, or multiple “someones,” that have experienced the emotional turmoil of being abandoned by their spouse. It truly is an unbelievably hard time for the individual. As a pastor, I have yet to meet someone in this situation that is willing to say, “everything is fine.” It’s actually the complete opposite. The people I meet are more broken than words can adequately describe. I once heard it put this way, “It is more tragic for someone to walk away than for someone to die. For when they walk away it is done on purpose.”
Yet, there is hope for the abandoned! Those that have experienced such hurt can respond, survive, and even thrive in their abandonment. Below I have listed four steps that I hope will serve as a starting point to the road of recovery for those facing abandonment.
#1 Seek Godly Counsel – Search out a friend that can not only listen, but also can deal out simple and godly advice. Listen to outside wisdom instead of inside hurt. It is hard to evaluate your situation when you are experiencing hurt. When deciding from whom to receive counsel consider:
I. Do they love Jesus supremely?
II. Will they be honest to the point of hurt if needed? (Proverbs 27:6)
III. Are they too emotionally involved with you to truly give you the advice you need?
#2 Behave in Godly Manner – Honor God with your behavior. Make His standard the only standard that you aim for. Do not act like you feel. Do not act like how some around you think you should act. Work hard to be above reproach in your time of hurt. Appropriate behavior will set your heart in order to forgive as Jesus has forgiven. Our hearts deceive us. They tell us to get even or “get the truth out there.” We must trust God with our defense. 
#3 Have Your Time – Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is a time for all seasons, including mourning. There is time to mourn. Have your God-given time. Mourn before God. Mourn with those who hurt with and for you. There is a blessedness in holy mourning. During times of intense pain, the church has the opportunity to shine beautifully. We are called by Christ to “mourn with those who mourn.” I pray you are involved in a Christ-centered church that is willing to encourage you and even mourn with you. Seek a church to join that will encourage you and will give you an opportunity to encourage others. 
#4 Encourage Yourself in the Lord – Pray, worship God faithfully, serve where you can, and sing to God. Pain is personal. Good advice should be heard and taken. Good behavior should be a top priority, regardless of the feelings within your heart. Mourning should be given a season, but it should never become your identity! Trust God that your mourning will be comforted!
    Scripture: Matthew 5:4
In Closing – Please remember, only you and God can completely understand your sorrow. Spend much time with Him. Cast your cares upon Him. He cares for you. Even when we are faithless He is FAITHFUL! No matter what your spouse does, God is staying! Find encouragement in His character today.
    Scripture: 1st Samuel 30:6
Contributors:  When dealing with sensitive topics, I endeavor to seek wisdom from my mentors. I want to thank Dr. R.L. Brown Lead Pastor of Victory Baptist Church in North Augusta and Brandon Dobson (MDiv) Lead Pastor of Bonlee Baptist Church in Bonlee, NC. Your care for others is faithful and refreshing.


Ready, Set, Sunday!

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As a christian and a pastor I understand the importance of gathering with other believers to worship God.
I also understand time is our most precious resource and for many of us, the 24 hours we are blessed with each day has already been delegated. But it’s also true that we make time for things we truly value. Food, sleep, time with family and friends, these type of things are sure to find space on our calendars. As Christians, gathering to worship with others is very valuable to flourishing in life. However, worshiping with your church or with a church does not happen magically. It is a real life event that takes real life preparation. So let’s get real and say “ready, set, SUNDAY!”

One thing is for certain, the more you begin to value worship and understand it’s importance, the more intentional you will become with it.

Here are some strategies that will help you lock into a healthy routine of worship with others:

1. The Intentionality – If you have a weekly calendar at home, make sure attending worship with your local church is on there.

2. The Preparation – Lay out clothes for church the night before and make sure those in your house know what time to get up.

3. The Consistency – Attend your mid-week life group, prayer meeting, or whatever kind of gathering is available.

4. The Location – Worship throughout the week. This is one of my most favorite things to do to get ready for Sunday, and probably one of the most important. When I say worship, I mean singing and giving praise to God. I always have my radio and phone set to Christian music so when Sunday comes the music isn’t unfamiliar to me. I did this way before I started being involved in the music ministry because I loved being able to sing to God.

5. The Contents – Read the Bible on Saturday. I know. “Oh the Christian person is telling me to read my Bible AGAIN.” Yes, yes I am. This is so important to a Christian’s health. First, it helps you learn more about God, but it also keeps weird ways of thinking out of your mind. So, on Saturday nights I always read a passage of scripture. Some nights it’s just a chapter, some a few chapters because it’s so good. I promise once you get into the routine of reading, you’ll enjoy it.

6. The Structure – Make plans for after church. I know this is not a “Christian” thing you should be worried about when coming to church, but enjoy yourself. Every Sunday I get to spend time with my Dad and go out to eat after church. I always look forward to this because, honestly, I love food. So make plans for after church, even if it is going back to your house and watching a movie or going out for a nice lunch.

Conclusion: What’s it going to take for you to be as intentional about responding to God’s love and grace in worship as you are to every other valuable situation in your life?


Church Exodus

I have been blessed to pastor Bethany Baptist Church since 2008. Not long after the doors were open to the church, people started to attend. Many people came once, twice, or maybe three times and then left. Out of the many that were guests, only a small percentage linked up with Bethany. Lots of time, energy, prayers, and teaching went into those that stayed. 18 months later, around 20 people that were faithful, left. I was 25 years old and my first son was just born. I was adjusting to being a dad and watching my first church exodus take place. Now at 32, with several church exoduses behind me, and more than I want ahead of me, I believe I can offer advice to church members that have to endure a church exodus.



Today We Pray

Prayer unleashes the greatest ability in every believer. Prayer empowers the believer where they seem to lack in gifts, personality, vision, and strength. A heart full of faith aimed with a mouth full of words toward a loving Father makes up for all that we lack!

Before we pray today remember:

I. God is our strength

II. You do not pray alone (Romans 8:26)

Do you want to pray?

I. The desire to pray comes from following Jesus.

II. The closer you follow the life of Jesus, the more you want to pray.

Do you know how to pray?

I. Jesus knew that His followers, you and me included, would have troubles praying. Therefore He left us a model prayer to follow.

II. This Prayer is called the Lord’s Prayer, and for the next few blogs we will focus on praying using this model.

*I should confess that the word “model” bothers me a little. I do not think we are looking at a “model” as much as an intimate conversation between the Father and Son. While we will use the word “model” for this blog please consider it to be relational more so than simply a mechanical term.*

The Lord’s Prayer:

Scripture: Matthew 6:9-13

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Grasping Verse 9 – After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Our – This is a declaration that we can only make because of Jesus. There is no way we can begin prayer with “our” without Christ making such a word possible. God is not “our” Father without Jesus. It could be prayer “our Judge” but not Father.

Father – Jesus gives us the ability to call God what He calls God. We are let into a family relationship with God through Jesus. God loses no honor by allowing people like us to call Him Father, but people like us certainly do gain honor to be in God’s family and have the ability to approach Him as such. It should be pointed out that God is our Father by His choice and not ours. It is not that we say “Now God you can be my Father,” rather “now you can be my child.”

Art in Heaven – The prayer Jesus gives us declares that God is Father. He is more than capable of doing for His children which they can not do for themselves. The Lord’s prayer hinges on God being Father to His children. The prayer also recognizes that the Father is in a great position. A position not like ours. From His person to His position, He has the ability and authority to care for those that are His. The Lord’s prayer recognizes this from the start.

Hallowed be thy name – It is beneficial for the name of God to be “hallowed” (honored, holy, sanctified) in the earth. How great it is in a common family to have a father with a reverenced name. How much great is it to be in a Holy Family where God’s name is held supreme?

A.) The Request – The first portion of this verse is a statement. The last part is a request. All power to make God’s name known is in Himself. It is His children who request that the Father’s great name be known. We are in fact asking that God glorify Himself. It’s our request God use us, His children, to make His name known in all of the earth!

B.) Your Assignment

1. Pray verse 9.

2. Request that in all life events that God’s name be magnified. Ask that you be a vessel that promotes and points out God’s righteousness in all events. It is the first request in the prayer Jesus gave us that the Father’s name be made known to all people.

3. Share this blog with your friends!




Jesus, Santa, and Christmas

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

There are so many things to say about Christmas! It is the most wonderful time of the year. It is that time where believers in Jesus celebrate God becoming man to redeem man from sin. There are so many wonderful aspects of God’s goodness, sovereignty, mercy, care, and plan to spotlight and yet for many, especially children, these truths will be ignored because of Christmas clutter. The most clutter comes from what we do with Santa. My wife and I let him be “low key.” That is, we do not promote him in our home as the main thing. Jesus is the only one who deserves priority, song, and wonder and therefore the center of our focus.

But we understand that keeping Jesus as the main thing during the Christmas season is difficult. It takes intentionality. Below are six steps my family takes, and I pray yours will consider, to remain focused on Jesus in the midst of distractions.

1. Attend Worship – Outings, decorations, and drinking coffee by the fire are Christmas traditions our family loves, but we realize they must be scheduled around our worship and not in place of our worship.

2. Serve Others – Each year we make volunteering, visitation, and giving part of our Christmas celebration and encourage those we come into contact with to do the same. Our hope every year is to make this year’s Christmas more about others than we did last year.

3. Dethrone Santa – Santa is NOT Jesus. Take him off the throne. Promote Jesus WAY more than Santa!

4. Read the Biblical Christmas Accounts – At this point, if we didn’t read the Christmas story as a family it just wouldn’t be Christmas! We intentionally open up God’s Word and read the Christmas story because we want our children to be fully aware of the true meaning of Christmas.

5. Show Christian Courtesy (Hospitality) – You have heard “happy holidays” right? Evidently, the Christian community is now offended by such remarks. Calm down and be polite! Our families and the families around us need to see more than sarcastic bumper stickers, they need to see the love of Christ.

6. Analyze Your Motives – This one is the tough one. Good hearted traditions done for the wrong motives can truly clutter Christmas. Check your hearts and remove anything that is not centered on Christ.

May you and your family have a merry Christ-Centered Christmas as you glorify God by keeping Jesus Christ at the center of all your Christmas activities!