by Robert Earl Houston
For the last few weeks and most noticeably in Frankfort and now at the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky session in Louisville, I have been walking with the assistance of a cane. It actually belongs to one of my deacons who was kind enough to allow me use of it during my cancer surgery recovery. It’s a beauty. A brass plated hame, “Bubba Stik” with the words “Made in Texas by Texans” on a plate at the tip.
Believe me, I’m not using it as a fashion statement. It serves a purpose to help steady me because even though it’s been over 2 months since my surgery, my foot still has an open wound, although 80% of it is now closed (thank God). It also helps me to get up and helps me sit down. I’ve learned how to walk with the cane and it helps me distribute my body weight evenly when I try to get from point A to point B.
Having this “Bubba Stik” has taught me three spiritual lessons (did you expect any less? – smile) that I want to share with you:
FIRST, THE CANE IS MY TESTIMONY
This cane is symbolic to me as the testament of my testimony. It has been amazing this week that many of my fellow delegates were not even aware that I had been through a bout with cancer. I guess you assume that people talk, discuss and share – but there were many, many people who were surprised to see me not walking through the hallways fast and spry, and instead they see me walking cautiously with a cane.
But this cane represents that where I am today is not as bad as what I’ve been through. I’ve gone from those words of my physician “I’m sorry, but you have cancer” to prep, surgery, post-surgery, and now recovery. The cane was not present or needed for the first four items, but for the recovery, it’s helpful. And it’s actually the last milestone for my ordeal. When this cane is no longer needed, then it will signal that my recovery is completed, my healing is done, and I can look forward to moving about as usual.
SECONDLY, MY CANE IS MY DIPLOMA
I sat in awe of Dr. Thomas H. Peoples, Jr.’s sermon yesterday at the Association’s Men’s Convention and he was talking about the Completeness of Christ vs. the Incompleteness of humanity. One of the things that struck me, coming from a noted Christian theologian as Dr. Peoples, was this statement: “the more I know about Christ, the more I discover that I don’t anything.”
What Dr. Peoples was alluding to is that even as we discover more and more about God it puts a highlighter upon our lives and we find out that we still don’t know all about and nor will the Lord allow us to know as much as He does.
Here’s the application – the cane represents the information that I have picked up about several things during this process. I’ve learned more about cancer, melanoma, congregational care of their shepherd, gracious thanksgiving, humility, spousal care, doctors, operating rooms, and even more humility than I have in the first 53 years of my life. This cane is my diploma – not in an advanced degree, but in the practicum of life.
This ordeal has taught me empathy. This ordeal has taught me the power of prayer. This ordeal has taught me total dependence upon the Lord. This ordeal has taught me to release myself to the Lord and to prepare for that eventual day when this body and soul will have a permanent separation. Every time I look at the cane, it reminds me that “I’m stronger, I’m wiser, I’m better, so much better.”
THIRD, MY CANE IS NOT UNIQUE
My cane is “purdy.” I mean it stands out in a crowd. It’s been called “wow” and even by some friends as a “pimp stick” (only a friend would tell another friend that). And I will admit, when I see others with canes, I look at their cane to see what it looks like, etc. It has drawn my attention, because I too am on a cane.
I was really excited, in a strange way, that nobody else in Frankfort had the same “Bubba Stik” that I have. I went to Cincinnati for the Gospel Music Workshop of America for a day and again, no one else had the cane that I have.
But then I came to Louisville and one of the men in the Laymen’s Department walked right up to me and yes, he had a “Bubba Stik” as well. Not only that he began to compare our two canes – mine was of a darker wood and his was lighter colored. He said “you have an older stick.” We laughed and walked away and then I thought about what this stick represents, what I’ve been through and the logical conclusion was there: “you’re not the only one who’s going through what you’re going through.”
Sometimes we have this feeling that “nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen” when in actuality, there are people all around us who have gone through or going through what we’re experiencing right now. I had an infirmity, a melanoma and I’ve had this week people walk up to me, especially those who read my article in The American Baptist Newspaper or on this blog, and tell me that they too have had skin cancer. One brother walked up to me and told me that he’s had it twice on the top of his head. Even a sister walked up to me and said “I just found out about it and I’m going to have the same surgery.”
It was like the Lord confirming in my spirit, you’re not unique because of what you’re going through, you’re unique because of the way God handled it.
Because there have been those who told me stories of those loved ones who did not make it or faced very serious amputations or treatments. I’ve heard the ghost stories of those who had the same cancer in other areas of their bodies and required removals and amputations of organs.
My disease was not unique, but my deliverance was. Thank you Lord. So when I look at this cane, made in Texas by Texans, I understand that it’s not the only cane they manufactured, not the only cane with a brass hame (handle), and not the only cane with the black tip. The cane is not unique, and I’m not the only one going through something.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED
I am now 40 days removed from successful cancer surgery. As part of my procedure, a two inch diameter of skin was removed from my right foot and replaced with a skin graft of skin from my right hip. I have been blessed beyond measure and you have no idea what it felt like to be back in the worship at the First Baptist Church and in the pulpit one more time.
Prior to this surgical procedure I had a very busy schedule. I’m the senior pastor of a great congregation here in Northern Kentucky, I’m a member of one of the largest District Associations in Kentucky, I’m the State President of the Kentucky State Convention of the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC), I’m Chairman of the Publishing Board of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, Member of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship and Board Member of the PNBC as well as their webmaster. I don’t list all of these for purposes of bragging . . . this story is going somewhere – hang on!
As much as I’d love to give great attention to all of these responsibilities and keep up with my preaching engagements and calendars – right now, I just can’t do it. I feel like a frustrated prophet – I want to be there, I want to preach and preach and preach and preach . . . but there is something called common sense.
I’m not out of the woods by any estimation. This surgery requires rest. I’ve actually stopped going to bed at 2 and 3 a.m. I’ve learned that I can’t eat on the run anymore. I’ve learned that I’ve got to slow down. I’ll let you in on a secret – my body will not give me any other choice. When my foot says “whoa” – it’s whoa.
Today I had to call a son of FBC, Dr. William Calhoun, of whom we are all very proud. He was licensed and ordained here by my predecessor, Dr. K.L. Moore, Jr., and we serve together as members of PNBC. Months ago he invited me to preach for him on this coming Sunday at his church in Baltimore. Had the plane ticket, he had made hotel reservations. Baltimore/Washington is one of my favorite areas and I was looking forward to going to Largo, Maryland and dine at one of my favorite seafood establishments. Plus I love history and enjoy going to see the monuments and the Washington mall.
But when we talked today, I had to tell him that I couldn’t make the trip. My foot is immensely sore, I still have an open wound on my foot, and I don’t have a lengthy timespan to be able to stand. When I preached at FBC on Sunday, I literally sat through most of the sermon (and oh yeah – you can be seated and preach). After worship, my wife and I hosted our graduates – from kindergarten to high school to trade school to college – at Hometown Buffet in Louisville. Since then, my foot has been killing me.
It’s just 40 days from surgery. I’m trying to get in the swing of things again, but I realize this is not going to be a quick sprint – it’s going to be marathon and patience is required. I’m looking at my calendar and looking at several events upcoming – a district association, a general association and a national convention – and thinking if I attend, I’m not going to be there gavel to gavel – I need to take it easy.
Pastor Calhoun made a common sense statement – “there will be another time.” That’s what my goal is – to finish this season with some common sense and be around for those “other times.” Cancer and Surgery is nothing to play with and I have to do what’s in the best interest of myself, my wife, my family, and my church family – and I can serve them best by exercising common sense.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED.
by Robert Earl Houston
Greetings everyone! I videotaped this a couple of weeks ago and I want to humbly share this with you. It’s a short, 10 minute, video diary of my infirmity – the skin cancer that sent me to the operating room on May 31, 2013.
I want to share it to encourage African-American males, especially, to get an annual physical. Get checked and don’t be afraid of the doctor – GO AND GET CHECKED. As a result of my begging (yes, begging) over 100 pastors from across the country have contacted me or emailed me or texted me and said they’re getting checkups. Praise God!!!!
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED!
by Robert Earl Houston
Today my wife, Jessica, and I went to see my surgeon for my three week check up. We received some fairly good news and I want to share them with you:
a. First the doctor snipped a few of the dissolving stitches which hadn’t fully dissolved. That’s really not that uncommon and it went without any major drama.
b. My doctor is very pleased with the healing of the wound and made the observation that if it were not for my diabetic condition, I’d be a little further down the road. My task it to make sure I drink a lot of water and keep my blood sugar within reasonable numbers.
c. The wound on my foot is due to the removal of flesh down to the fat cells and the replacement of that area from skin and tissue from my hip (transplant). The doctor is pleased and believes that at least 80% of the transplant took, and she performed some debridement to encourage the healing of the area. She explained that the wound had produced protein to protect the portion that was not healing like the other portion. The debridement and the move to a wet/dry dressing – which means that gauze saturated with a saline solution, which will remove and keep the protein from that area, is laid in the wound, covered with a dry wrap, and then covered with an elastic wrap (the same type that’s used on horses coincidentally).
d. The prognosis is VERY GOOD. First, I won’t require a follow-up surgery because of the rejection of the transplant. That is VERY GOOD NEWS because otherwise it would have meant a more serious surgery – which would have meant taking the transplanted tissue out (which has already meshed with my skin in the area area, making a larger area of transplant, and then transplanting even more skin, probably from my left side this time, and then undergoing a few more weeks without being able to walk. Thank God for the prognosis.
So there it is. I have the doctor’s clearance to go back to the pulpit on July 7, 2013 and I can’t wait!!! I’m restricted in moving around for a few weeks more and I’ll find out in a few days when I can fly again.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED.
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.
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.
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 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.