The Pastors Best Friend

Last Friday, I returned to my previous pastorate to preach the funeral of L.D. Becton, who I called on facebook “one of the greatest friends a pastor could ever have.” People who did not know L.D. asked me if he was a young man, near my age, since that is logical to think that we are friends with people near our age. L.D. was 78 years old, so in today’s world, he could have been my grandfather.

L.D. was a pastor’s best friend because he supported his pastor. The day I was called to pastor First Baptist Church in Hampton, he told me, “As long as you are our pastor, you will have my support.” He would instruct prospective deacons that their main responsibility was to support their pastor as long as he was following the Lord and His Word. These were more than words to L.D., as many say those same words but back down from that commitment when they disagree with a decision or a sermon. L.D. lived this commitment.

I have been blessed with a couple of other men just like L.D., and as I think about them, this is what a pastor’s best friend looks like:

They are physically present. It is hard to support your pastor when your attendance is sporadic. Other than the Sunday following Thanksgiving and Easter, L.D. was always at church. He was in Alabama for a family gathering those two Sundays. When we had business meetings, L.D. would skip out on the meal part due to being a diabetic, but he was there by the time they business session started.

They do not rubber stamp every decision. I don’t want you to think that a pastor’s best friend is a “yes man.” L.D. asked hard questions and raised caution, but ultimately he supported my decision. There were times that he would tell me, after the fact, that he thought something would never work, but you would have never known that by his actions.

They do not tolerate murmuring. It is common in the church for leaders to listen to murmuring and then report to the pastor. A pastor’s best friend realizes that listening to such complaints gives validation. L.D. would stop people in their tracks, reminding them of the Lord’s work, and “nip it in the bud” as Barney Fife would say. There were a few times he would report his actions, but there was no action for me to take because it had been handled.

They laugh with you. L.D. would stop by the office and the house at times for the sole purpose of laughing with (or at) me. Like the time he (as a Alabama fan) left a role of toilet paper and an empty bottle of Tide on my desk. When he stopped by, it was not always serious, which was refreshing many days.

I owe much of the success of my pastoral ministry to the “pastor’s best friends” I have been blessed with. Much like Aaron and Hur held Moses’ arms in support in Exodus 17, these men have allowed me to experience victory.

These traits can be in anyone’s life. Anyone can be their pastor’s best friend. He needs you.


Quit Treating the Symptoms

Quit Treating Symptoms
February 7, 2017
Unfortunately, Yazoo City has been in the news recently. The latest was a quadruple murder that occurred in the early hours Monday outside of a local club. The previous news was centered around three overdose deaths that occurred within a six-week period. No one likes their city to be highlighted for these reasons. But what do you do?

In response to these events, one group of pastors wants to have a prayer march. Another pastor called for a day of prayer and fasting. And another group of pastors is meeting to determine what are the greatest issues to address in Yazoo: unemployment, education, drug abuse, etc.

I have chosen not to participate in any of these in the past because I see them as a way to attempt to treat symptoms and ignore the sickness. The Bible is clear: “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The problem is that we are all sin-sick. As a result of this sickness, people turn to drugs to fill a void. Adults are at a nightclub “enjoying” the night away rather than being at home in the bed, preparing for a day of work the next morning. Sin-sickness leads to us living for ourselves, without any concern for others and the pain our actions will cause.

The cure to this sickness is a personal relationship with Jesus, where one surrenders their life to Him and aligns their lives according to His Word. We have told people they need to change their ways and we have pointed out finger at them long enough. All we are doing is addressing the symptoms.

While I would never speak against the importance of prayer, I am afraid we use it so excuse ourselves from calling people to surrender to Jesus. We sound spiritual when we tell others we are going to a prayer march for our city. I think we need to remember Jesus’ instructions that “when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). The prayers offered in secret stir the heart of God.

If we want to see true change in our community, we will spend time in prayer, but we must put action to our prayers and proclaim the Good News of Jesus, calling people to turn from their sin and surrender their life to the Lord. “All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13, emphasis mine).

If you have questions about this relationship with Jesus, check out this page for a simple explanation. If you have made this decision, tell someone what Jesus has done for you!


Why We Still Have Revivals

A lady once asked Billy Sunday, “Why do you keep having revivals when they don’t last?” Instead of answering her question directly, he asked her a question, “Why do you keep taking baths?”
I am a proponent of revival services and have scheduled one each year I have been a pastor. But I am not talking about just some extra services for a few days. Rather, I am a firm believer in a season of revival, which I begin with a focused time of pray and personal preparation for what the Lord wants to do in our lives and within our church. For the past few years, I have put together a 40 Day revival preparation devotional. The past two years, I have asked our staff to write some of the devotionals and the response to the devotional has been very positive- and humbling.


When we spend time preparing for revival, the actual revival services are the climax and revival continues after the services are over. As the lady told Billy Sunday, revivals do not last, so why do I keep doing them?


First, we need revival. When I speak of revival, I am not referring to the services but to the fresh awakening from the Lord upon areas of our life that have grown cold. Like Jesus’ parable of the soils in Matthew 13, the worries of life and other troubles cause us to ignore God’s Word. Sin that we once despised becomes comfortable. We quit serving. We become numb to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We need revival.

Second, revival services cause us to focus spiritually. Attending revival services results in us attending church more than we do in a normal week. In a busy world, revival services are the few times when we attend church more than Sunday and Wednesday, although the average church member attends only Sunday morning.

I always tell my church that Satan will attack relentlessly during revival services. You will have a bad day at work. The children will be completely defiant between getting home from school and leaving for the service. You will have to rush homework and supper. Many other excuses are readily available for not attending revival, but when you are willing to push through and attend, you are able to focus spiritually more than normal.

Third, you get to hear another preacher during revival
. As a pastor it is tough to admit, but I know that my church gets tired of hearing from me. Or they are least get used to hearing from me and think they know what to expect. When I prayerfully invite someone to preach a revival at the pastor where I pastor, it is always someone that I want to hear. To not beat around the bush: they are going to be good. And it is refreshing for the preacher to be in a new place and get to speak to new people.

Lastly, I have revivals because God works in revival services. Because we know the need for a fresh encounter with the Lord and we are focused spiritually, God uses the revival preacher to challenge His people. I have seen people make decisions in revival services that they have been needing to make for a long time, but for whatever reason they did not answer God’s call until attending the revival. And this is the main reason why I continue to have an annual revival service.

If you are in the Yazoo City area, I invite you to join us February 12-15. If you attend a church that has not held a revival recently, I hope you will consider its benefits.


On the Same Page


This past Sunday included a Deacons Meeting and a Finance Team Meeting. At the end of the day, I was tired (which is normal for a Sunday) but very encouraged, as both meetings were very positive. I was not surprised, though, as this is normally the case for both of these meetings. While I was thankful for my day, my heart was with a couple of pastor friends that were each facing a very difficult day with similar meetings.

I posted the above feelings on Facebook Sunday evening, which brought personal responses from some other church leaders. Some were positive, others were negative. Then one individual posted about how he was not a deacon or on committees because “it is too much drama.” I talked to another friend today at another church who basically stated the same thing.

I know that my situation is fortunate, but it does not happen by accident. 

Teams function properly when everyone is on the same page. 

While my original application was to the church, I also realize it applies to the marriage relationship, parenting, the workforce, and any other setting that involves more than one person. How can everyone get on the same page?

Set aside personal preferences. 

One of my meetings included 14 other men, while the other involved 8 other individuals. Each person has a difficult personality, background, and preferences, yet the focus of the meeting was how could we be more effective in fulfilling the church’s mission. No one mentioned what they wanted. There were no unilateral decisions. The reason many homes are in chaos is that it is survival of the fittest, rather than everyone working together for the common good.

Focus on the team’s objective.

One of the reasons that personal preferences take charge is due to the fact that no one knows what the team is supposed to be doing. Therefore, someone speaks up, “I think we should…” and the rest is history.

Demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit.

There are going to be difficult team on every team. If you cannot think of who it is, then it is probably you! For a team to work together, your actions are important. As a believer, you should be demonstrating proof of the Spirit’s work in your life. Paul lists the fruits in Galatians 5:22-23. When you work with others, you will need patience, kindness is a must, and self-control can cause you from making a fool of yourself.

Remember why you are on the team in the first place.

If you got on the team so you would have a position or prestige, then get off of it quickly or change your motivation. Most, though, in the church get on a team because of their desire to serve. In a marriage, you formed a team because of the love for the other person. You might have taken a job simply as a ways to make ends meet. When the stress picks up, it is easy to forget why you are on the team. Taking a trip down memory lane might help you out.

Not every meeting is as good as the ones that started these thoughts, but they all can be. Most of it is up to you.


Reminders of the Past Year

The past couple of weeks have given me the opportunity to think back over the past year as I prepared sermons, anticipate our annual meeting at church, and evaluate ministries with staff. I have also gotten to speak with some friends in the ministry over the past month, some of whom are struggling. These experiences and the memories of the past year have reminded me (or caused me to re-learn) some important principles:

The power of the tongue

. The old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a lie. We all have experiences of that, but in today’s world it does not have to be a spoken word. It can be a post on social media, an anonymous letter,  gossip, or something hollered out in a crowd — all of which are reminders that people do not have the guts to say to your face what they believe needs to be said.
The power of the tongue goes beyond saying something about someone. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do everything without grumbling or complaining” (Philippians 2:14).


. While I have seen relationships and churches destroyed because of words, I regularly see God’s work hindered because of grumbling or complaining.

The requirement of forgiveness

. When words hurt or frustrate us, forgiveness is required. Most are slow to give it, while some never come to that point. Let us remember that it is a matter of the heart, and when we are slow to forgive it shows the hardness of our heart.

The importance of supporters

. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in Exodus 17. The Amalekites attacked Israel and when Moses raised his hands, the Israelites were winning, but when his hands were lowered, the Amalekites prevailed. If you have ever raised your arms up high for a length of time, you have experienced the difficulty that comes as the time builds. “When Moses’ hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up- one on one side, one on the other- so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” I am thankful for those through the years who have stood with me and supported me, and there is nothing more fulfilling to be that person for others. It is an opportunity to see the Lord work!

The priority of missions

. Last January I took a group of 11 others to Chile. For most, it was their first international missions experience. And it set a fire in their hearts for the Mapuche people. In August, I went with a group to Crest Hill, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, to serve at a local school. Each of us left with a commitment to see a church planted in this community. Quarterly, I join with many others in our church to love on Yazoo. It reminds us of the need around us. Each of these missions opportunities ignite a passion for the people to encounter the Lord personally.

The brevity of life

. We are all forced at some point to admit that life is short, but when we see someone we consider “young” to die, our perspective changes. This past year, I had several men close to my age (which I still consider young) die. I had multiple spiritual conversations with these men. They all struggled. They had various degrees of interest in living for Christ. But none of them knew they would die before the year ended. We often think that we have time to do what we want, including time to have a right standing with God. The writers of Hebrews reminds us that “Today” is the time. Do not put off til tomorrow what you need to do today.

There were other things in the past year that I learned, including the importance of perseverance as the Cubs won the World Series, but these are the ones that I needed to be reminded. What did you re-learn this year?