by Robert Earl Houston
Just as laypersons become ill, pastors become ill. Illnesses creep in and sometimes the Pastor is days, weeks, months and in rare cases years away from the pulpit.
I have seen all four scenarios. There are the pastors who are ill momentarily and then the next Sunday, they bounce back and return to their pulpits. Then there are those pastors who experience surgery and are down for a number of weeks. Then there are those pastors who are down for a matter of months and then return to their pulpits. And there are a few, rare exceptions when a pastor is out of the pulpit a year to as many as four years, in an state such as a coma, who then returns back to the pulpit.
I have lived in the first two examples. I’ve had common colds, flu, and normally then return to my pulpit, even if I’m sniffling and sneezing. I’m right now in the midst of the second scenario, where following cancer surgery has had me down for the past three weeks and counting. I pray God that I never have to cross the scenarios of the latter two examples.
So what does a church do when the Pastor is on extended leave? I want to offer some suggestions:
#1 – COMMIT YOUR PASTOR TO PRAYER
If there was ever a time when the congregation needs to pray for it’s shepherd, this is the time. This means during any and all meetings, any and all choir rehearsals, any and all gatherings – even if they are social events, the corporate church should devote some time to prayer for their leader. Not only should prayer be offered congregationally, but it should be offered by family – especially in families with children. Children can be taught a very valuable life lesson in seeing the head of the household round everyone together and pray for the pastor! At meals, during family devotions (if you have them), together call out the name of your pastor before the Lord. And of course, individually, put the pastor at the top of your prayer list – after all your pastor is your conduit to the Lord’s spiritual directions for your life. Call out your pastor’s name and ask the Lord to restore your pastor!
# 2 – COMMIT YOURSELF TO GOING TO CHURCH
Most pastors who are ill will tell you that while laying on their bed of afflictions will tell you that one of our biggest concerns is “how is the church doing?” Pastor Xavier Thompson, President of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Vicinity once said that we understand the principle of when the cat’s away, the mice will play and that Satan uses and takes advantage of the pastor’s illness to sow discord in the local congregation. However, Pastor Thompson says unless there is a firewall. That firewall is three fold – first off, members of the church have to rise up and “let the church be the church.” The pastor’s illness should not translate into “the member’s vacation.” This is the time to go to Sunday School, go to Church, come to Bible Study, give your tithes and offerings – so that there will be no lack in the storehouse when the Pastor returns. Secondly, beware of seducing spirits and those who will try to take advantage of a pastoral absence. Sadly, there are some other pastors who will try to take advantage of another pastor’s illness – but this is not the time to entertain invitations. This is the time to stay put. And lastly, keep peace with each other. Go the extra mile, love each other, serve each other – and do it until the Lord’s church becomes the happiest place on earth in regards to fellowship.
# 3 – SEE WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOUR PASTOR
If it is an extended or prolonged illness, your pastor will not be able to do someone of the things that he or she normally does. 9 times out of 10, there are some errands that the pastor won’t tell you about that are being left undone. Little things have to be done – correspondence, mail, issues within the house, issues with the car (I remember a pastor who was ill for about three months – he had a 17 year old member that came to the house twice a day, just to crank up his car, drive it around the block, and re-park it – just so the engine wouldn’t die and then he would wash the pastor’s car (without permission) just so the pastor wouldn’t have to worry about it). This is a time of great, lasting assistance you can provide to your soul watcher. The Apostle Paul once said that it is reasonable to sow temporal things after he has sown everlasting things (paraphrase) – therefore, you may have to ask your pastor – “how can I help you?” Don’t be so prideful that you say “I ain’t taking out no trash” – but have a servant’s attitude and remember this – what you sow may be sown back into your life later on in life.
So there it is – pray, commit and help. And whatsoever ye do . . . do all to the Glory of God.
Your Comments are Welcomed.
FRIENDS OF DR. TONY LLOYD LEWIS
June 14, 2013
On Wednesday, June 12, 2013, our dear friend and brother in the Lord, the Reverend Dr. Tony Lloyd Lewis went home to be with the Lord.
Many of us are familiar with Dr. Lewis’ life and ministry. He was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, educated and gave His life to Lord and surrendered himself to ministry. He was educated at historic Bishop College in Dallas, and completed his D.Min. studies at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. While in Dallas, he was Minister of Christian Education under the leadership of the late Senior Pastor, Dr. E.K. Bailey.
He went on to serve as Senior Pastor of three congregations: The Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon; The Macedonia Baptist Church in Pomona, California and finally, The Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church of Los Angeles, California. He wrote sermons for the Sermon Sharing Service, which were literally preached around the world. He retired from Zion Hill, due to health concerns, and relocated to his native Louisiana and united with the First Presbyterian Church, where he joyfully served as one of the Adult Bible Teachers, when his health allowed.
This letter is to ask you for your support. His family is in need of your financial assistance to complete his burial services, as he did not have life insurance. At present, those costs are approximately $12,000.00. Many of us who are pastors have had to come to the aid of a brother pastor – and this family needs our support – immediately.
There are three ways to help:
1) You can send an immediate PayPal gift to the family by going to www.paypal.com and selecting “send money online.” All payments should go directly to Dr. Lewis’ daughter, Kimberly Lewis Stidum, by using her email address, KimberlyStidum@yahoo.com.
2) You can request from your local bank a bank transfer to an account which has been created at Chase National Bank. The account number is 223367328 and please note “Dr. T.L. Lewis Fund” in the notation. This will go directly to Kimberly and the Family for expenses.
3) You can mail a gift directly to: Kimberly Lewis Stidum, PO Box 103, Katy, Texas 77449. Again, make all checks payable to Kimberly Lewis Stidum.
Pastors, please respond with the best gift possible! Men and Women of God, whose lives were touched by Dr. Lewis, please respond with the best gift possible! He who has sown into our lives with spiritual food – it’s now time to return back a portion of those blessings with our gifts to this family in need.
On behalf of the Family, we wish to make the following announcement concerning the Homegoing Services. All services will be held at the First Presbyterian Church, 1801 2nd Avenue, Lake Charles, Louisiana 70601, (337) 433-4667, Rev. Chandler (Chan) Willis, Senior Pastor.
Friday, June 21, 2013 – 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (CST)
Visitation Period and Viewing of Remains
During this service, a period of remembrance will be held, allowing all Pastors and Friends to have expressions and remembrances.
Saturday, June 22, 2013 – 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (CST)
Visitation Period and Viewing of Remains
Saturday, June 22, 2013 – 11:00 a.m. (CST)
Homegoing Services – Rev. Chandler (Chan) Willis, Officiating
We pray that you will keep this family in your prayers and ask the Lord’s comfort upon them as they walk through this season of sorrow. May the Lord bless you for your response.
Pastor Robert Earl Houston
Pastor Michael Moore
by Robert Earl Houston
My heart is very heavy to hear of the homegoing of my friend and my mentor, Dr. Tony Lloyd Lewis, retired pastor of the Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church of Los Angeles, California and former pastor of the Macedonia Baptist Church of Pomona, California and the church where I was baptized, the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church of Portland, Oregon.
He was a native Louisianan, where he went home after a lengthy illness. He was a proud graduate of Bishop College and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, where he earned his D.Min. Dr. Lewis was one of the original contributors to The Sermon Sharing Service and even after he formally retired, his written sermons were heard around the world.
Dr. Lewis inspired and theologically challenged and stretched me – many a late night evening was spent on the phone jousting with him about politics (he was a political junkie of the highest order), life, marriage, church, and church life. It was not unusual to hear him pivot mentally from one subject to the next and he had a tremendous sense of humor.
Academically, he was one of my profs at North Portland Bible College (briefly) and he is the one who told me about a church in Fresno, California, the Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church. We became quick friends when he was called to pastor the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, succeeding the Rev. LeeArthur J. Madison. Morning Star was the church where I gave my life to the Lord under the founder’s leadership, Rev. Sylvester McCullumn and where my mother and sisters are members to this day.
He was on the ordination council when me and Rev. Walter Monroe Brown, Jr. were ordained. We pastored together and fellowshipped together when I became the pastor of the Greater St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church succeeding the late Reverend Amzie Bailey, Jr.
Dr. Lewis was the author of the “Battlefield” and “Pallbearers” trilogies published by R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation in Nashville. He was kind enough to include me in several of the introductions of his books, and I had the priviledge of doing so upon publication of my first book, “See You In the Morning,” in return.
Denominationally, Dr. Lewis was the Vice Moderator of the Union District in Portland, and when he moved to Pomona, he discovered there was no local fellowship of Baptist Churches and he organized and served as the First Moderator of the San Gabriel Valley District Association (I believe that was the name of it).
When I was a young pastor, I was asked to produce the Musical for the General Baptist Convention of the Northwest, and we had a packed-out house. I invited the Governor and the Mayor and I made one mistake – I forgot to include a photo of the State President. Several of the local pastors wanted the State President to hang me to the wall for this “unforgettable act.” It was two people who “saved” me that night. One was Portland’s Mayor J.E. “Bud” Clark, who said, “Dr. O.B. Williams – I know you are proud to have young men around you like Pastor Houston, who has worked hard to make this event successful.” Then Dr. Lewis got up and said, “Brother President, we don’t need a photo of you in the program, we already have your image in our hearts.” Whew, I was saved!!!
He suffered with illness and had to retire from active pastoring but he always told me – “Bob (that’s what he called me), man, make sure you take care of your health.” After moving from Los Angeles, he went home to his native Lake Charles, Louisiana. He would be asked by a local church to teach every now and then and he relished the opportunity and prepared for the classes with the zeal of a true soldier in Christ.
He passed away last night. Today, Dr. Lewis is healed throughout eternity. My condolences and the prayers and support of the First Baptist Church (which is the only church I pastored where he didn’t stand in the pulpit and preach due to illness) in Frankfort, go to his family. This is a great loss on the earth and a great addition in the heavenlies. T.L., I’ll see you in the morning.
HOMEGOING INFORMATION WILL BE INCLUDED ONCE IT IS RECEIVED.
Your comments are welcomed.
by Robert Earl Houston
It is 3:45 a.m. EST and I’ve just went through a physical episode. Sometimes you go through these kinds of things post surgery. It’s been a whirlwind of the last few weeks. From a suspicious mole, two biopsies, confirmation of a cancer (melanoma), surgery which entailed removal of a portion of skin down to the fat layer, grafting of skin from my groin to my foot, being placed in a durable splint, prescribed pretty strong medicines and a knee scooter, unable to walk up stairs, having to turn our living room into a bedroom, and basically unable to move and function.
But she’s been there.
My wife, Jessica Georgette Houston, deserves some well deserved props. This has been the most stressful season in our years of marriage, but she has confirmed to me that (a) the Holy Spirit truly led me to her and (b) He who findeth a wife, findeth a good thing.
She has had to take off from her job to take care of her husband – and let me say, I know, I’m not a day at the beach to deal with. But she does it with a smile and grace that is incredible. She has done so even with her own mother being hospitalized days before my surgery. I wanted to send her home to Sacramento to see about her mother and she refused, “I need to be with my husband.”
Today, she went to church and represented me today and brought greetings and an update to the church. She has cooked, cleaned, prepared a diet for me during this downtime and made sure that everything’s in place. Our master bedroom is upstairs and the day before surgery, we discussed that I wouldn’t be able to make the stairs and she said, “we’re going to sleep downstairs.” She gave up the comfort of our new King Sized Bed (we had just purchased a new mattress) to sleep on an oversized love seat.
She’s had to assist her 6’2, 300+ pound husband out of his chair – because I can’t rise of my own strength. She’s prepared sponge baths for me to utilize because even if I could go up the stairs, I can’t take my normal showers right now due to my surgical dressing.
I just want to put on the record that I appreciate and am thankful for my wife. She’s a gorgeous, godly woman. She is the First Lady of First Baptist Church and she does it with style and elegance. She’s my confidant, my right arm, my left arm – she’s all that and a bag of chips.
So, I just want to give the girl her props. You hear a lot about dysfunctional pastor-wife relationships, but I’m grateful to God for the woman of God that He has brought into my life. We’ve come this far by faith and the best part of it is, we’ve been leaning on the Lord, trusting in His name, He’s never failed us yet. Please keep Jessica in your prayers as she ministers to her husband.
Your Comments are Welcomed.
by Robert Earl Houston
I have not been in my office or in any church meetings since the end of May. I’ve been on sick leave because of a discovery of melanoma (cancer) upon my body following two biopsies, and removal of said cancer (praise God), and subsequent aftermath of a two hour surgery.
However, I want to share with you three things (among many) that I have learned during this time off as a pastor:
#1 – I Have Learned The Show Must Go On
This is going to rub a lot of pastors the wrong way – please forgive me for that – but when the senior pastor is down, the congregational life still (and must) roll on.
Meetings still have to be held. Rehearsals still have to be conducted. Sunday School still has to meet. Morning Worship still has to continue on. And yes, preaching still has to still be performed Sunday after Sunday. Bible Study still has to be taught as well.
If you’re ego is so large that you think you are the end all, be all of the lifeblood of your congregation – whether you’re the founding pastor or one in a great lineage of pastors – illness will teach you quickly that the church must still roll on.
I live right next door to the church and I get the benefit of hearing the car doors shut every morning that lets me know that church staff is there, in the afternoons that let me know that meetings are still being held, and evenings that corporate activities are going on.
Things should never stop with the Church just because the Pastor is ill.
# 2 – I have Learned That What You Taught Rises to the Occasion
I have noticed that my teaching and preaching is now reverberating through the congregation and they are doing what they’ve been taught.
Every Sunday we run a sick and shut in list in the weekly bulletin with an admonishment from me to visit them and send them cards. I now have accumulated a collection of beautiful cards of encouragement. This is a high-tech era, so I’ve gotten text messages, emails, tweets, and even electronic greeting cards.
Not only that, they have provided food and loving care. Just yesterday a couple of men from the church came over to change air filters and lighting – which I can’t perform due to being in a leg splint and under doctor’s orders to stay off my feet. The ladies of the church have brought meals to the house or given me and my wife money to purchase meals. This morning one of my Deacons came to the house and visited with me before worship because “I just had to lay eyes on my pastor.”
When you are a pastor who cares about the people and are known for getting up out of bed in the middle of the night to see about my members, I’m now the same recipient of that same love that I gave out. My chairman of Deacons came to me and said something that I’ve said in many different settings, “I’ll handle it.” It’s comforting to know that the teachings of “loving one another” and “caring for one another” have resulted in watching it being performed.
#3 – I Have Learned That Being Missed Is Temporary but One Day will be Eternal
As I open the cards and emails, I keep reading these words: “We miss you.” And when I can, I write back or communicate back, “I miss y’all too.” And hopefully in just a few short weeks, I will be returning back to my old routine (Lord willing).
When I get back, I expect to see stacks of stuff – papers, letters, requests – you know? The usual pastoral paperwork that 99% of the congregation is not even aware that takes place. I’ve had to cancel speaking engagements, teaching engagements and have to catch up with members and staff and to find out what’s going on at the church.
But a day is coming. If the Lord tarries, there will come a time when a future absence won’t be temporary, but it will be permanent. Whether it’s by death or relocation or adverse circumstances or the Lord’s direction – one of these days, Pastor Houston won’t be coming back. This illness has reminded me that none of us who serve as Pastors are permanent. We are in the long procession of men and women that have come before us and will follow after us.
As much as I love my church, I also owe it to my church to make sure that I’m not the focus of their worship and work – because I’m temporary. I followed a beloved minister who was temporary – albeit 46 years – he was guaranteed to be with the church forever. I’m just 53 and if I served as long as my predecessor I would be in my early 90s. Even if the Lord gave me unusual strength and zeal even with a pep in my step at 93 – there is still coming a day when my tenure is completed.
So, I am glad that we all remember that Pastors serve in seasons – but my job is to preach every Sunday, Christ and Him crucified. When I teach, the lesson is never about me – it’s about He who died, was buried, and rose with all power in His hand. It’s my job to remind everyone that pastors are human but Jesus is eternal.
In Conclusion, I can’t wait to get back on my feet. I thank the Lord for what I’m learning while off my feet.
Your comments are welcomed.
Reverend O.C. Nicks, Pastor Emeritus of Mt. Moriah MB Church, passed away on June 4, 2013.
Rev. Nicks was a prominent Pastor and member of the National Baptist Convention USA Inc. of the Baptist General State Convention of Illinois and past member of Baptist Brotherhood District Association.
Rev. O.C. Nicks was married 59 years to the late Carolyn Nicks, to this union 5 children were born.
Rev. O.C. Nicks will lie in state on Saturday, June 8, 2013 from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, June 9, visitation from 2-4 p.m. Homegoing service 4 p.m. Service(s) will be held at Mt. Moriah MB Church, 6352 S. Eggleston Ave. Chicago, IL 60621. 773-224-4660.
Interment at Restvale Cemetery on Monday, June 10. Services entrusted to Southwest Memorial Chapels, 7901 S. Komensky Chicago, IL 60652. 773-424-3151
by Robert Earl Houston
I am, as many people know, a week from having surgery to remove cancer from my foot. I have my good days and bad days, good hours and bad hours, and I’ve had to bring to a crashing halt a 29 hour a day schedule. My church leadership are in obvious partnership with my wife and the church is doing their thing and taking tons of pressure off of me.
It would be easy just to curl up into a ball and not mention, say, blog, write or utter a word about my illness. Matter of fact, 35 years ago when I was called into the ministry, we were taught not to tell our personal business, especially illnesses. Only a few people knew of a pastor’s illness and in most cases, churches were never informed and then shocked to see their pastor after chemotherapy or radiation therapy or a massive weight loss. It was to be a “secret” and no matter the origin or diagnosis – it was considered “off limits” to discuss your illness.
But in 2013, there are more and more pastors who are changing that paradigm and I think that our mindsets were changed by the late Dr. E.K. Bailey. Dr. Bailey, founder, builder and pastor of the Concord Church in Dallas, had three battles with cancer while he was a loving husband, father, pastor, and International Preaching Conference founder. Matter of fact, Dr. Bailey along with others like Dr. R.A. Williams, Dr. Larry L. Harris, Dr. George Waddles, Dr. A. Louis Patterson, and others introduced expository preaching to generations of African-American pastors and preachers.
Dr. Bailey’s illness took it’s toll on him, his family, and his church – but he decided to be transparent. Through the media powerhouse of Concord Church and by his presence at conferences, even when people knew he was ill – it was important for him to get the word out. That word was never mentioned across pulpits and it was thought to be not suitable for pulpits in the day – that the Pastor has to not only model victory in Christ, he also has to model pain and affliction. No one has bought the “Non-Job Version” of the Scriptures – every Bible contained the painful, detailed blog of Job during his time of affliction. Many a pastor, family, and person has found comfort generations later because of Job’s exposition and Dr. Bailey (and those of us today) feel that giving you a look into a time of personal pain and turmoil – that it will help somebody.
Professor Raymond Raspberry penned the song, “If I can help somebody as I travel a long . . . then my living will not be in vain.” I want you to know that there are days when the comfort can be unbearable. I want you to know that sometimes I feel like saying “dammit these needles hurt.” I want you to know that sometimes I feel powerless and have to rely upon my wife to help me lift up off of the bed because I just don’t have the strength. I want you to know that surgery was over two hours, that the portion of flesh removed was larger than expected. I want you to know that they put a tube down my throat.
Not for your pity . . . but so that when (and hopefully it won’t) your time comes, you can remember that the preacher from Kentucky told me that it was painful, but that God will bring you through. You can remember that when that pastor from Kentucky went through it, he had a church by his side, in prayer and support. You can remember that when his wife was worried about her husband, that women gathered together to help his wife and that we need to help our pastor’s wife as well.
It’s a transparency that is missing in the body of Christ. Our shouting is misunderstood by some people because they have no idea what we’ve been through. Our celebration is misunderstood because they’ve never heard us say “I survived cancer . . . I survived divorce . . . I survived troubled times.”
So I applaud Pastors who have that same mind set (I won’t mention names here because I don’t have everyone’s permission to do so) – who want you to know that our calling did not disconnect us from seasons of pain. But what our calling did is to amplify the prophetical and encouraging voices to tell you, as a fellow traveller, that with God, all things are possible.
Your comments are welcomed.
by Robert Earl Houston
Today I am launching an initiative that I hope will spread like wildfire. Today I am announcing the formation of “OPERATION NBA” which is an initiative to encourage, cajole, and beg African American men to celebration one of this nation’s greatest sporting events – the NBA Playoffs – and to do some pro-active during the playoffs: To pick up the telephone, call your local physician’s office and schedule a complete physical examination.
I recently had a brush with skin cancer – a melanoma that was largely not visible, and had I not been proactive of my own health care, I would have ignored what looked like nothing than a mole on the arch of my foot, and after weeks of study, two biopsies, and surgery – I am proud to say that my personal physician, by the help of the Lord, were able to remove the entire cancer from my body. However, I know that I was one of the blessed ones. There are many who are not quite as fortunate.
This fear of going to doctors is unfortunately a reality in the African Diaspora. However, it is literally a life and death matter. The statistics are staggering and even our corporate life-expectancy in this nation is eye-raising when you consider that most of us who have jobs pay into a Social Security Retirement system that only a small portion will live long enough to receive benefits from.
I call upon the Presidents of the National Baptist Conventions, Presiding prelates of every Christian denomination and of all religions to place this before the men of your congregation and encourage them to seek medical attention. We cannot continue to lose significant portions of our population needlessly. Our wives, our spouses, our significant others, our children, our parents, our siblings, our neighbors, our families, our houses of worship, can no longer simply watch us continue on without seeking some type of professional attention.
by Robert Earl Houston
Today I returned to my surgeon’s office, after having cancer surgery on Friday. Since then, I have not been outside of my home. I’ve been wearing a boot containing a splint. I’ve had to utilize a scooter to give me some kind of ambulatory movement. I’ve been forced to be home, taking prescribed medications, moving about every hour, and sleeping most of the time because of the potency of the medicine. Jessica and I drove to Lexington, not knowing what the doctor’s prognosis would be.
We got our answer today.
According to the pathology report: “FINAL DIAGNOSIS: Skin, right foot, melanoma wide excision: (a) Prior biopsy site changes noted, with no residual melanoma in situ or nevus identified . . . (b) All peripheral resection margins are benign.”
In other words, the Lord and the surgeon got it all. I’m cancer free! My healing and deliverance have come! It was truly an infirmity (thank you Dr. Bernard Sutton for that term) – and you do know that Jesus heals infirmities! And the words “in situ” or “nevus” means that it was in the very early stages of cancer – but God has other plans!
I don’t have the vocabulary to express my gratefulness to God for what He has done. I have a friend, Pastor Terry Jones, who when I shared the initial diagnosis of cancer with said, “Robert, I don’t feel that in my spirit. I believe God has and God will heal you.” Terry was absolutely right. The calmness that I’ve described previously was confirmation in my spirit that the Lord was healing me and working on me, even when i didn’t know it.
Jessica (who I have no words for during this season . . . I’ll blog about her later) and I have been praying intensely since the early diagnosis. It’s been quiet around the house during the past month and now our house is filled with tears of joy, uplifted hands, shouts of hallelujah and chants of thank you Jesus! We are recipients of the mercies of the Lord and yes, it is marvelous in our eyes.
A note to my fellow Black men – PLEASE GO SEE A DOCTOR. Make sure that an examination, a physical, a check-up is on your list of things to do this year! Why not celebrate the NBA playoffs with an NBA physical? Do it for yourself, your loved ones, your significant others, your children, do it for the Lord so that He can continue to use you in His service.
I’m had multitudes praying for me. First, my extended family in Portland, Sacramento – even relatives I haven’t met who gathered in Las Vegas last week have reached out and prayed for me; Secondly, the people of First Baptist Church in Frankfort, (Y’all rock!) the “bestest” church in the whole, wide world – and the people of Frankfort, Franklin County, Louisville, Lexington, and the entire Commonwealth, have called out my name in worship services and prayer meetings; Third, my preaching and pastoral colleagues from near and far. My God, I’ve heard from National Presidents, Pastors, Bishops, Apostles, Leaders, Ministers, PNBC Family, Kentucky State Convention Family, Central District, Laypersons from throughout the nation – you’ll never know how much your encouragement has meant to me and Jessica over the past few weeks. Special shout out to the REH Ministers Forum and the Kentucky Pastors and Preachers and Friends Forum; Fourth, I’ve heard from people I’ve never meant, fellow bloggers, friends across all spectrums, GMWA Family, Portlanders, Fresnans, San Diegans, Nashvilleans – and even some folk I’ve never heard of before who called and said, “Pastor, the Holy Spirit told me to call you and pray with you” – literally around the world. Thank you!!!
My next steps? I’ll be down for a few weeks. I returned home today with a new splint on my feet. My grafting area (the doctor says) looks extremely good, especially for someone with diabetes. So, I’m off my feet for 2 to 4 weeks – plan to do some reading, some reflection, some writing, some refreshing of the mind and some serious time with the Lord. He’s kept me alive because He has more work for me to do. My voice is still weak from surgery, but it’s starting to heal and I’ll be following up with an ENT in a few days.
I’m looking forward to being back in public worship and back in the pulpit in a matter of weeks. But until then, I’ve turned my living room/bedroom into a worship space. My home office is a worship space. The kitchen, the dining room, even the bathroom is a worship space. I’m full of praise and thanksgiving tonight – for the Lord has made a way.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you . . . plans to give you hope . . .” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Your comments are welcomed and appreciated.
by Robert Earl Houston
I’m so grateful for all of the cards, emails, notes, text messages that I’ve received since my surgery on Friday. I really am. In most cases, the phone calls and emails and texts begin the same way, “How are you doing?”
That’s a very good question and let me answer it in typical baptist preacher fashion, we three points and a close . . .
First, I’m feeling the affects of prayer
At the time where I’ve been assigned by the Holy Spirit and across the nation, people are praying for me. I’ve even heard from fellow believers in Japan and Germany. People who I’ve known for years, people who I’ve just recently met, and even those who I have never met, have reached out and said “I’m praying for you.”
Not only do I believe in the power of prayer to move the heavenlies, I also believe in what prayer will do for the one being prayed for. My faith has been strengthened, my focus is squarely on the Lord, and I have been reminded that the church does best under pressure. My ministers are praying, my deacons are praying, my trustees are praying, the women of the church are praying, the men of the church are praying, even the youth and children are praying – and I am feeling the affects of your appeals to the Father. Thank you!
Secondly, I’m feeling the affects of rest
I am a workaholic pastor. Have been for years. The problem with being a workaholic pastor is that outside of his or her immediate family, very few people know that their soul-watcher is up at 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. or later working on sermons, lessons, letters, projects, etc. I don’t know too many pastors who work a 9 to 5 at their church. The ministry does not have office hours nor overtime. You can be at home resting and then one phone call can turn your evening plans upside down. Several of us, me included, have to take sleeping pills because of the lack of rest that we receive in the mind and heart. There’s always another matter, another program, another sermon to be developed. However, this time, it’s different because I’m order strict orders to rest. I’ve spent less than 2 hours a day on work related issues – a first for me. One reason is because I have an awesome staff of leaders – my Chair of Deacons, my Chair of Trustees, my Church Treasurer, my Secretary, my Assistant to the Pastor – are more than able and capable of carrying things on and giving me the opportunity to rest my spirit.
Thirdly, I’m feeling the affects of ministry
One thing that my contemporaries and I are understanding is that he or she who ministers to the people also need to be ministered unto – need to be encouraged, need to be reminded of the scriptures, need to be prayed for. I am refreshed by those who call and want to pray with me. I was refreshed Sunday when my Chair of Deacons, associates and some of the youth, came over to serve the Lord’s supper and pray with me and my wife, Jessica. I was encouraged with the ladies of the church sent over dinner to take that burden away from my wife for Sunday. I am encouraged to hear our Assistant say that she’s writing the Bible Lesson for tonight and hear that plans for the upcoming Men and Women’s Day are full-steam ahead. I’m glad that even though the pastor is on the sidelines temporarily that the work of the ministry continues to move forward.
So how am I doing? I’m blessed and highly favored; I’m not waiting until this battle is over, I’m shouting now; I’m looking to the hills from whence cometh my Help; and I’m determined to trust God through this infirmity.