Pastors in Hiding

Ministry friend, are you struggling? Do you want to quit? Are you carrying a heavy load? Do you feel all alone? Need a friend to help you, listen to you, care for you, and give you hope? Please read the post below and reach out to us. You are never too far gone that the Lord cannot restore and refresh you!!! Let us help point you to the One Who is our Living Hope!!

Nearly Two in Five Pastors Have Considered Quitting Full-Time Ministry

With pastors’ well-being on the line, and many on the brink of burnout, 38 percent indicate they have considered quitting full-time ministry within the past year. This percentage is up 9 full points (from 29%) since Barna asked church leaders this same question at the beginning of 2021.

There are many reasons for pastors quitting the ministry, but one I am concerned about is pastors in hiding.

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He Adores Her

Feeble and weak, he shuffled a bit wobbly toward the couch carrying a prized possession. In my 89 year old father-in-law’s hand was a photo mousepad. As he sat down on the couch next to me he said, “This is a picture of Mil (Mildred) and me after our first date.” He then proceeded to tell, with great delight, a bit of laughter, and a tear of joy how he got his sister to sit in the back seat of the car so the girl of his dreams would join him in the front seat. And as they say, “The rest is history.”

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Family Times Around the Table

The grace of God on display. We deserve nothing but have everything in Christ alone! All glory to God!

RefreshHer

You read the title correctly, we made family memories, not going around the globe, but gathered around the table. We had the blessing as a family to enjoy our second annual HamFamVacay! That simply means, Cunningham Family Vacation. We spent three nights in Sevierville, TN over the Labor Day weekend. We stayed at a Wyndham resort again. We were a little crowded in our two bedroom space, but everyone made concessions for one another, and we made it work just fine (we like each other!). Who could complain with a view like this…

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Get Off the Interstate: Picnic for Two With a View

A hurry-up life-style results in a throwaway culture.

Chuck Swindoll

Indeed, many, many marriages are thrown away or put-on-the-back-burner because of the hurried pace and expectations of today’s society. There’s little time to develop attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize the culture of a good, godly marriage.

So, I offer a simple solution that can have positive “cultural” effects by way of two examples. If you don’t live in East Tennessee or travel these roads, just adapt to your neck-of-the-woods!

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But We’ll Be Late! | The Pastor’s First Ministry

There she was, sleeping so soundly. After a very draining week emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually, my wife was snuggled securely in bed in a deep slumber.

“What time is it? What day is it?” Those were her words when I awakened her.

Slowly she crawled out of bed and began to make herself ready for the day.

What day was it? Sunday.

What time was it? Suffice it to say, she had overslept!! Didn’t hear her alarm either.

We have pre-service prayer meeting on Sundays at 8:30. As I watched the clock and began to fix her a to-go breakfast, she came down the stairs. My wife was ready to go to church on the outside, but I could see that she was not on the inside. And based upon my ever present “I’ll fix this situation” manhood, I declared, “I’ll go on ahead, and you can come in your Jeep.”

Wait a minute! It’s raining, she’s fighting off a migraine, and she is definitely not crusin’ along on all eight cylinders.

It was then and there that my first ministry captured my attention. Serving my wife was more important than being at prayer meeting on time. She had no business driving by herself. She needed her husband. She needed her pastor. She needed her friend.

Pastors, Christian leaders, missionaries, we are so prone to put the ministry above our wives, leaving her in the dust with her brood as she carries seven diaper/book bags, Bibles, a purse, and wearing her “running shoes” to keep up with you. I mean, after all, you are the pastor and you must be there to open the door and lead in prayer! What will people think if you are late!!!

Men, you know the words of Matthew 22:37-39 quite well. May I encourage you to remember that your wife is your neighbor. She is to be loved more than your church congregation (Ephesians 5:25). Your ministry to your wife, and your church member, I might add, is an example to all the other believers. She is your first ministry.

Fighting the urge to drive a bit more aggressively and take some of the curves on two wheels, we had a nice, easy and enjoyable journey.

Interesting enough, folks gathered for prayer as always, and . . . we were the second ones in the parking lot. No harm done. Compassionate, caring love shown to my wife.

Thank You, Lord, for stopping me in my tracks and reminding me what is of greater value.

“C’mon, Hon. Take your time. I’ll wait. Let’s go together.”

Twitter and Humility

In today’s social media world, anyone can become a celebrity in a matter of seconds! Post a video or tweet or reel that grabs the attention of many in a short span of time, and you can have “rock start” status!

A word of caution, if I may . . . there is only one celebrity, one individual that is worthy of undivided attention, one person that is to be lauded, followed and worshipped. His name is the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5-11).

There is only one celebrity!

If we are truly born again (John 3:1-18), a follower of Jesus Christ (Luke 14:26), then He lives in us to live His life out of us (John 14:20; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27). This is the preeminent status for us in this life! This is who we really are.

Therefore, let’s be careful when and if our numbers begin to climb that our pride is not stroked by how many followers or commenters we have. Any influence in this world we have only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit as He exalts the Lord Jesus Christ for the glory and honor of God the Father!!

Remember the words of John the Baptist . . . He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).

Faithfulness and loyalty to God is much more important than being a celebrity.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Let’s Just Settle Down

My dad had many sayings. When my friends and I got rowdy as a kid, he would sometimes utter, “You boys need to settle down.”

Now in my 60’s and having been exposed to so much in the Christian and religious world for these years, could we as pastors/Christian leaders just settle down?

My background is one of . . . growing up in a pastor’s home (My dad was Church of the Nazarene until his Army days in Korea, and then came to understand the security of believer in Christ, thanks to a godly chaplain who taught him the Word!); The Wilds Christian Camp (Doc Hay, Rock Royer, Major Brooks, etc.); Bob Jones University (college and seminary plus a host of its graduates including all of its presidents to date, Bible Conference speakers, faculty, etc.); Tennessee Temple University graduates; the Sword of the Lord crowd; my Southern Baptist grandfather who pastored in Kentucky and southwest Virginia; the GARBC; the many men who fellowshipped in what was for years known as the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship (Now Foundations Baptist Fellowship); Dallas Theological Seminary grads; being mentored personally by the likes of J.B. Williams, J. Robert Martin, Randy Patten, Reynold Lemp and many others; plus being influenced from a distance by the likes of Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll, Adrian Rogers, Henry Blackaby, David Jeremiah, and more.

In more recent years, my background continues to be of the many mentioned above plus Men’s Prayer Advance, 9Marks, T4G, CoRE Conferences, plus many, many books authored by Tripp, Ortlund, Wells, Bridges, Payne & Marshall, Thomas, Huegal, Ryrie, Walvord, Pickering, etc.

“What’s the point?’, you may ask.

Well, I want to say that for all of us in ministry, none of us have it all figured out; none of us knows all the facts about everyone or every situation; none of us know more than our God; none of us have the absolute right methodology; none of us are the standard; and none of us have arrived!

For all of us in ministry, none of us have it all figured out . . . none of us have arrived!

We all come from various backgrounds and are all influenced by a diverse group of people, churches, institutions and movements, but we are saved by grace through faith alone in the cross work and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are one in Christ. We are made complete in Christ. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit. We are children of the living God!

Therefore, understanding that there are clear, biblical points of separation and the application thereof, such as preeminently, the Gospel (Galatians 1:1-10), may I say that we need to . . .

  • Give one another the benefit of the doubt.
  • Be gracious and kind.
  • Stop making fun of our brothers on social media whether you agree with him or not. (No wonder the lost world doesn’t want our Jesus, seeing the way we lampoon one another.)
  • Throw away our Pharisaical microscope.
  • Give one another space to grow in sanctification.
  • Cheer our brother on when he’s down. When revival breaks out where he pastors but not where you serve, rejoice and praise God with him!
  • Personally call up the brother we have issue with instead of talking about him behind his back or on social media.
  • Exchange the time of criticizing and posting for time on our knees in prayer.
  • Let God handle error by His righteous standard rather than us being “the enforcer.”
  • Meet with your brother for coffee; get to know him and disciple each other.
  • Confess and repent of our arrogance and pride.
  • Exercise grace.
  • Remember, we will live forever together in Glory!

Throw away your Pharisaical microscope.

In times past, I have jokingly said, for instance to a group of four men, “There are only four people in the world that’s perfect. That’s me and you three, and . . . I am doubtful about you three!”

Proverbs 22:4 recently challenged my heart again . . . By humility and the fear of the LORD (not man) are riches and honor and life.

May I suggest that we soak our soul often in the truths of Colossians 1:15-18 and go deep in meditation and prayer in Philippians 1:1-2:18?

Let’s join Paul in prayer . . . And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)

Let’s just settle down.

Get Off the Interstate: Meals, Lodging & Strolls in Weaverville, NC

“So teach us to number our days” prays Moses as recorded in Psalm 90:13. Not years but days. So much is missed in our life if we do not live in the moment, the day, and enjoy the scenic route!!

So you’re travelling on Interstate 26 between Asheville, NC, and Johnson City, TN. Exchange the hustle and bustle of four-lane life for a slower change of pace. Here you go!

Well-Bred Bakery

Nestled on the corner of N. Main and Florida Street, you will enter a piece of bakery paradise!

For breakfast, how about the Quiche which comes in three flavors or the Chorizo Breakfast Burrito or . . . have mercy, the Pecan Streusel Roll!!!

Coffee? Yes . . . Jamaican Me Crazy!!

For lunch, I highly recommend their Turkey Pretzel Roll or Grilled Cheese and if available, the Tomato Soup!

Don’t leave without taking a Ginger Molasses Cookie or a Mountain Éclair to enjoy later.

There is limited outdoor seating on the front sidewalk and along Florida Street.

Many times over the years I have left the interstate for a coffee and cookie at Well Bred!!

You will want to stroll the couple of blocks on either side of Well-bred on Main Street of this cozy community.

Stoney Knob Cafe

Be ready for eclectic décor and excellent food! Their website says it well!

Begin with a trendy location just 10 minutes from Asheville, NC. Stir in a whimsical blend of artifacts and artful spaces. Season with provocative offerings of American, Greek and European cuisine. Add a dash of funk and a smidgen of comfy cool. Top it off with owners who bring tremendous heart and skill to the table, treating you more like family. Garnish with smiles all around.

Denise and I, and friends, have tried many of their menu offerings over the years and have never been disappointed. For lunch, I suggest the Jamaican Shrimp Wrap or Tacos Pescado. For supper, how about the Meatloaf or Salmon or Chicken Piccatta!!

I’m ready to stop typing and head on down the road to the Knob!!!

Sourwood Inn

You have to be going there on purpose to find it, but once you drive down the lane, you are surrounded by the stillness of it all! Yes, you are tucked away from busy life, yet you are minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway and the uniqueness of Asheville, NC.

Our stay included the Trillium Room, which had a great view, plus playing ping pong and pool. Rest and enjoying each other’s company was enhanced by the sitting room and a walk around the property. This would be a great place for a birthday or anniversary celebration!

So, number your days. Live in the moment. Plan or be spontaneous!

Scenic Route Marriage Tip: Husbands, you may be wired to get from point A to point B in the quickest, shortest time possible. Unwire and surprise your wife with an intentional get-out-of-the-car-nofastfood meal or get a cookie and coffee and enjoy time seated on the sidewalk with your sweetheart! Live today!

It’s A Mad, Mad World!

That’s my impression from my stroll down the main drag of Gatlinburg, TN, recently.

  • Few people smiling or laughing.
  • Harsh words being spoken to others, especially to children and other family members.
  • One woman spewing out foul language because she has pulled into a blocked street and folks are not “parting the Red Sea” for her to back out onto Parkway.
  • Impatience on display.
  • Many store clerks looking like their job is a misery to their soul.
  • T-shirts declaring the woe-filled and proud hearts of so many.

All this and more in one of the vacation capitols of America!

This is supposed to be “the happy place!” Right?

Really????

But, this is the case almost everywhere you go today. Why?

1. Man tries to fill his empty, eternal soul with temporal, earthly things. There is nothing in the world that will ever completely satisfy mankind. There may be momentary satisfaction, but it leaves a desire for more or something else.

In the midst of all this unhappiness, I saw new attractions, new restaurants, a gazillion moonshine stores (Isn’t that what brings great joy, so we’re told????), new stores, new products on the shelves, etc. This should make people happy, full of joy, right?

2. Man without a personal relationship with Christ does not have the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:19-24)

As my wife and I strolled up and back down Parkway, our hearts were saddened and grieved by the thousands who are choosing to live this way without the Prince of Peace, The Joy of Jesus, the Savior of our souls.

May I encourage you to read the three links given in the last sentence above?

When the angel announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds in the field, his first words were “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10). That “great joy” was the truth that the God who had seemed far off had come to them in human flesh. He was to be called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us” (Isaiah 9:6–7; Matthew 1:23). Those who saw Him saw the face of God (John 14:9). He had come to rescue, to save, to heal, and to make mankind right with God (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:17–21). That was cause for great joy! (gotquestions.org/joy-to-the-world)

The only cure for a mad, mad world is the Gospel! The Good News!!

(Photo from trekearth.com)

Get Off the Interstate: Meals & Lodging from Corbin to Lexington, KY

Travelling can become a very boring routine no matter your destination!

Do you take the interstate on all of your trips?

Do you only eat at fast-food chain restaurants?

Do you just stop for a quick restroom break and it’s back to beatin’ the pavement?

Suggestion: Slow down, get off the path everyone else is taking and enjoy the journey! Take the scenic route! Getting “there” is not the main goal. It’s living in the moment that God has given and making investments in the lives around you. That includes the people in your car and the many outside your vehicle!

So, let me give you some trip tips to make the journey more enjoyable.

I will begin in this post with the section of I-75 between Corbin and Lexington, Kentucky. Here’s a few neat spots to stop for a meal or overnight lodging.

MEALS

Local Honey, London, KY

  • Quaint downtown, delicious food, romantic atmosphere but kid-worthy, excellent service!
  • We had two of their appetizers for lunch recently! Wow!!
  • Four minutes from Exit 41, I-75

Boone Tavern Hotel, Berea, KY

  • Quiet dining for all meals in an elegant, historical setting!
  • Tavern Classic for breakfast, Kentucky Hot Brown for lunch, or deep fried deviled eggs for starters and shrimp and grits for supper!! Oh yes, the spoon bread, too!!
  • Six minute drive from Exit 76, I-75

LODGING

Boone Tavern Hotel, Berea, KY

  • Check out the website and see the prices. Add breakfast and you are set!
  • Friendly staff, very nice rooms, cozy and comfortable!!
  • Hope you get to meet the jolly, friendly bell hop, too!!
  • You’ll want to stroll around the block and step into the fudge shop, coffee & tea shop, sandwich shop and/or candle store.
  • Need some exercise? Good running or walking path on North Main Street!

There’s much more to see in America than Buc-ee’s!!!! So, check back with me in the days to come as I share other neat places on the scenic route . . . off the interstate!!

Scenic Route Marriage Tip: Side trips like these provide time to talk, listen, hold hands, share, kiss, slow down and enjoy the gift of marriage! Helps you get out of and stay out of the rut of mindless routine that traps many marriages.