Month: October 2022

So much more than Sunday morning

A strong, late summer thunderstorm blew through the Metroplex one afternoon a few weeks ago. I watched it from my office window, and it seemed to leave just as quickly as it came.

Even after the storm had moved on, I found myself staring out my window taking notice of little details that usually elude me because I’m so focused on my work. I watched the remnants of the storm clouds give way to clear blue sky. A bright red cardinal hopped from branch to branch in the tree right outside the window. I noticed the way the droplets left by the rain were resting on—and slowly rolling off—the dark green leaves on that same tree.

I was soon interrupted by a strained feeling from within telling me I needed to get back to work, but I allowed myself to stand there a few moments longer because I realized something that I wish I remembered more often: in those moments of marveling at the wonder of nature, I was worshipping. So before sitting back down at my desk, I thanked God for the tiny, beautiful things not only that He has created, but that He allows me to see.

Worship is so much more than the time when we sing songs during a Sunday morning church service. Worship  is maintaining a mindset of gratitude and awe toward the Lord all day every day. Worship can (and should) happen all over the place—in the car, at the ballpark, at a dinner table with friends.

Psalm 150:1-2 says this:


Praise God in His sanctuary.

Praise Him in His mighty expanse.

Praise Him for His powerful acts; 

Praise Him for His abundant greatness.

Based on this passage, here are four ways you can worship God all day every day:

"Worship is maintaining a mindset of gratitude and awe toward the Lord all day every day. Worship can (and should) happen all over the place—in the car, at the ballpark, at a dinner table with friends."

Worship Him by gathering with others

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: in a culture and at a time when we are more connected than ever through technology, our hearts have never been further apart from one another. Be intentional about gathering with God’s people “in His sanctuary” as often as possible, but also be present in each other’s homes and lives. We prove to be Jesus’ disciples when we love one another in such ways.

Worship Him through what He has created

Take time to stare out the window and notice all that God has created. The power and character of God, Paul writes in Romans, is “clearly seen … through what He has made.” But are you taking time to experience it, look at it, breathe it in?

Worship Him through testimony

What “powerful acts” have you seen God do lately in your life or in the lives of others? The problem is not that God isn’t at work—He is always at work. The challenge is in taking time to count your blessings and name them one by one, to Him in prayer and to others when you gather. 

Worship Him for all His greatness

God is patient. God is kind. God is mighty above all things. God speaks and it is so. God is for you! Spend regular time telling God, and anyone else who will listen, how great He is.  

“Attention,” author John Mark Comer once wrote, “is the beginning of devotion.” What will you choose to focus on today? To whom will you give your attention?

Southern Baptists of Texas Convention gives $250,000 gift to Southwestern Seminary

FORT WORTH—Nathan Lorick, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), presented a $250,000 gift to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary interim leadership O.S. Hawkins and David S. Dockery to support the faculty and to help the school with its current financial challenges on October 3.

“It’s our honor and joy to partner with you, Southwestern, and to present to you a check for $250,000 to help with the expenses, and to come alongside your faculty during this time of transition,” Lorick said in presenting the gift. “The SBTC stands with you and we’re for you, and we love our partnership alongside you.”

Hawkins, named by the Board of Trustees as senior advisor and ambassador-at-large in a special-called board meeting on September 27, said “On this day in 1910, the first classes were held here on Seminary Hill. This was made possible by the sacrificial gifts of Texas Baptist churches and members who adopted the vision of our founder, B.H. Carroll. It is fitting that on this memorable date Dr. Nathan Lorick and our friends at the SBTC present us a $250,000 gift to say, ‘We still believe in the future of our seminary.’”

Hawkins noted the gift, in support of the faculty and other needs, “will free up much-needed funds as another step in reestablishing our school on sound financial footing. May this be a seed that brings forth a multitude of churches and individuals to invest in what was, is, and will continue to be the gold standard for conservative theological education with a heart for evangelism and missions.”

In comments on September 27 about the state of the seminary, Hawkins said, “It is no secret the seminary has serious financial challenges and going forward we will be giving oversight to aggressively manage costs and implementing best business practices with the intent to move our school to a more solid financial footing.”

Dockery, interim president of Southwestern Seminary, said, “The entire Southwestern community joins me in expressing deep and heartfelt gratitude to Nathan Lorick and the Southern Baptists of Texas for their generous investment in the Southwestern faculty at this key time in the life of the seminary. We look forward to enhancing the ongoing partnership with the Southern Baptists of Texas in the days to come.”

Lorick added, “I want Southwestern to know that the SBTC has been a long-term partner, and we look forward to continuing that partnership to train the next generation of students to take the gospel all across Texas and the world. We believe that it’s a great partnership here in Texas to train, equip, and send out those students to advance the gospel like never before. The SBTC is excited about the future of Southwestern and grateful for the leadership of Dr. Hawkins and Dr. Dockery during this time—we’re expecting and anticipating great things.”

3 practices for pastoring our own children

Ministry is a team sport. Our wives and children do so much to support our ministry to the local church. As we pastor everyone else’s families, we can also establish healthy rhythms in pastoring our own family.

Dedicate your children to the Lord in prayer

I was not looking forward to the carpool line when my son started middle school, but my perspective completely changed when I used this as an opportunity to pray daily with my son and his friends. Since we know that God works through prayer, the best thing we can do as pastors is to regularly dedicate them to the Lord in prayer.

In Scripture, Hannah was mocked for not having children and she brought her concern to the Lord in fervent prayer. When her son Samuel was born, she knew her child was a blessing from the Lord, so she dedicated him back to the Lord in prayer, saying, “For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore, I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:27-28, ESV).

Our children are gifts given by God for us to steward and we cannot pastor them properly in our strength, so “let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 14:6, ESV). Consider when you can privately and publicly pray over your children—for their salvation, interceding for them, for their friends, and even for their future spouses.

Debrief everything from a biblical worldview

Prior to pastoring my church, I was a college minister for 10 years and had dozens of students spend their summers serving with Centre Kid and Fuge camps. One skill these students learned is the art of “debriefing everything.” These college students could take any activity or any situation and point it back to a scriptural truth about God. They could seriously take a game with shaving cream, rubber chickens, and water balloons, then have a group of wild kids take a knee as they debriefed the game in a way that pointed the kids to God and shared the gospel.

This is a skill that will serve us well as we pastor our children. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

In this Scripture we have received what is known as the Shema and the Greatest Commandment, along with instructions to teach these truths to our children every day and all day long. Consider how you pastor your kids by pointing them to scriptural truths about God. As we do this consistently, we help our children develop a biblical worldview by putting their days and experiences in proper perspective.

Devote time to family worship

In 2006 my wife and I bought our first little house, and it included the most pitiful little oak tree. For three years, I consistently watered that tree and saw no growth or improvement. This past summer, I drove the family by our first little home where, to my amazement, that little tree had grown into a towering oak tree that now canopied over the home and gave shade to the whole yard.

When we pastor our home by consistently leading our children in family worship, it may seem like a fruitless task, but over time, we can trust God to grow our children into “oaks of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:3). In his book Family Worship, Donald S. Whitney encourages families to spend about 10 minutes daily reading narrative passages in Scripture, praying, and singing together. Whitney encourages families to “have realistic expectations” about family worship. During family worship, your toddler may be having a tantrum, you may feel like you’re competing for attention with your kids’ phones, and the dog may come in and throw up on the floor. As Whitney shared about his own family worship, he said he never felt like there was an atmospheric movement of God in his living room and he often wondered if anything of value was accomplished.

But with family worship, it’s the faithful and consistent pastoring of our homes that we pray will result in God making oaks of righteousness. Consider how you can pastor your children by consistently incorporating family worship at home.

The 5: Blessing your pastor during Pastor Appreciation Month

I love pastors. They bear the weighty burden of caring for our souls (Hebrews 13:17). On top of that burden is more than two-and-a-half years of COVID craziness that has made pastoral work even more complicated. With October being designated Pastor Appreciation Month, I offer these ideas to honor those who have remained faithful through it all:


Give him a “book tree” 

How you create “the tree” is up to you, but the leaves are all Amazon or Logos gift cards. Every pastor I know wants more books, and every one would like more funds to get them. If each of your church families gives $10 or $20, that gift would likely be substantial. If you want to delight your pastor in an unexpected way, give gift cards to his wife and children, too. None of them will forget that gesture. 


Give him an extra week of vacation in 2023

These past few years truly have been exhausting, and most pastors are still figuring out how to shepherd a post-COVID congregation. It takes many of us most of our vacation to unwind anyway, so your pastor might especially welcome an extra week next year. In fact, I encourage you to consider offering your pastor a one-month sabbatical next year if he has served faithfully for a number of years. 


Give him and his family a local gym membership

We want our pastors to be healthy and serve us for many years. Frankly, many pastors need to get more exercise—and perhaps they will be more diligent in self-care if our congregations give them this gift. If your pastor already has a personal membership (but not a family one), at least cover the cost of adding his family. Even better, do that, and cover the total cost for another year. 


Give him and his wife a trip to Israel

I still remember my first trip there as a teenager (a long time ago), and I recognize today that my Bible reading has never been the same since then. My wife traveled with me for the first time several years ago—because of the generosity of other believers—and she still talks about her experience there. If your pastor and his wife have been to Israel, think about sending them to the area of Paul’s journeys. 

Editor’s note: The SBTC will lead a “Walk in the Footsteps of Paul” trip in 2023. E-mail for more info.


Give him the gift of your greater
investment in the work of your church

As a shepherd myself, I would be most honored by a member who says to me, “Pastor, out of love for the Lord and gratitude for you, I want to be more faithful in serving through our church. How might I serve that most helps you or our ministries?” My guess is this gift will surprise—and bless—your pastor.

Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. For more from Lawless, visit

Q&A: ‘We are primed and ready for the next great revival’

The path there, SBTC president says, is prayer—which will take center stage at annual meeting

Acouple of years ago, Todd Kaunitz—pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church in Longview and president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention—was weathering a season of personal discouragement when he decided to make prayer a priority at his church. Only God could do what the church experienced as a result. As he prepares to encourage churches across the state to make a stronger commitment to prayer at this year’s annual meeting, Kaunitz spoke with the Texan about how churches lose focus on prayer, and how prayer has not only changed his church, but himself.

In an interview with the Texan almost a year ago, you talked about leading your church to refocus on prayer. What are some ways prayer has specifically changed your church over the past year?

Todd Kaunitz: I would say it has changed everything about our church. We are sensing a deeper unity as a result of pursuing the Lord in prayer. We have seen a greater dependency [on the Lord] by our church members and going to the Lord in prayer with boldness. We’ve seen God answer prayers in ways that have really emboldened our church to be more prayerful. When you call on God’s name and He answers, that answered prayer is a faith-builder. But the biggest thing we have seen through this experience has been seeing how the power of the presence of God shapes us. It takes His Word and embeds it into our heart. You just sense it when you come on our campus. There’s just a different presence that we have that wasn’t here before we began to pray.

Todd Kaunitz, SBTC president, encourages churches across the state to make a stronger commitment to prayer at this year’s annual meeting

"We are primed and ready for the next great revival. Apart from prayer and apart from us coming to the end of ourselves and calling on the name of Lord, we will not see revival and we will not see that awakening."

What are the biggest threats to prayer in the church today? How do churches lose that critical focus?

TK: I think we live in a consumer age of the church, and in the consumer age of the church, we spend more time focusing on the product we’re producing than the presence and the power of God needed to make disciples, to grow men and women spiritually, and to reach more people for Christ. We spend way too much time in our church culture buying and selling methods of doing church, which the early church in Acts didn’t have. They didn’t have the bookstores and all of the commentaries and the church growth strategies. They had the gospel and they had the Holy Spirit and they spent time in prayer. 

I’m a big strategy guy. I think having a strategy and a plan honors the Lord. But I think we can become so strategized and so focused on methods that we have completely just programmed the Holy Spirit out of our churches. What we need to do is get on our face before the Lord and cry out to Him. God did more through a praying church—120 believers in the upper room in the book of Acts accomplished more with no training, no conferences, no methods in just a short amount of time than most churches will ever accomplish in the history of the church, [yet] we have all of these tools and resources. So I think it’s that—becoming too man-dependent and not enough Holy Spirit-dependent.

In consideration of this year’s theme of “Pursuing Presence,” why do you think it is important for churches to attend the annual meeting?

TK: I think first and foremost, the annual meeting is a great opportunity for our network of churches to come together and just be encouraged by fellowship, by preaching, and by rejoicing and celebrating the great things that we’re able to see God do as we partner together cooperatively to advance the gospel. 

Secondly, I truly believe we are at a crisis moment in the history of the church in America. By and large, if you look at the landscape of our culture, the power of the Holy Spirit is no longer resting on many of our churches. I believe we are primed and ready for another Great Awakening. We are primed and ready for the next great revival. Apart from prayer and apart from us coming to the end of ourselves and calling on the name of Lord, we will not see revival and we will not see that awakening. But because of the spiritual condition of our nation and many of our churches, we are primed for it. This annual meeting, we are praying that as we challenge churches and as we come together as a convention for the purpose of prayer and learning what it looks like to pursue the presence of God, that it just might be a catalyst that sparks revival—not just in our convention, but in our entire state and in our nation. 

We need revival. We need the Holy Spirit to be poured out afresh on our churches, because that is what revival is. Revival isn’t just the lost being saved, although revival leads to that. Revival is a reawakening of the body of Christ through a manifestation of the Holy Spirit pouring Himself afresh upon the churches. We can’t manufacture revival. We can’t create it. We can’t program it. We can’t strategize it. But what we can do, we can put ourselves before the Lord in prayer and seek His face for it. And while we can’t manufacture revival, we can miss revival if we don’t seek His face and we don’t call on His name and we don’t pray.

So I would want all pastors in our state to really examine their own ministries and ask themselves a question: if they don’t have a weekly prayer meeting where their people are gathering specifically to call on the name of the Lord and invite the presence of God to move in their church and pray for revival in all the churches, what would keep them from rearranging their schedule? Would they be willing to make adjustments to whatever programming they have going on to make space for the people of God to gather for the sole purpose of calling on the name of the Lord and inviting His presence to move like never before?

That’s really what it means to pursue presence. It is to chase after the presence of God like our life depends upon it, because it does.

Pastor retires from Texas church where gunman killed 26 people in 2017

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS (BP)—Frank Pomeroy was hunting in the wet and cold Alaskan bush when the Lord gave him his final sermon as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.

Considering the grizzlies, black bear, wolves and rain, Pomeroy suspected the message would somehow encompass creation.

“But God kept bringing me back to, this was an opportunity for me to share what’s important for the church to continue on,” Pomeroy told Baptist Press, “and that’s when He … led me to Paul’s letter to Ephesus (Acts 20) and we just went from there.”

The tragedy First Sutherland Springs weathered when a gunman killed 26 worshipers and wounded 22 others on Nov. 5, 2017, is perhaps the memory the church’s name most readily provokes. But First Sutherland Springs has ministered since 1926 in the small community of less than 1,000 people, 20 years under the leadership of Pomeroy.

“What really brings Sutherland Springs together over these 20 years is that there really is a true sense of relationship and family,” he said. “And therefore, we have always been very inclusive of the community, and that the church would be the center of the community, whether it was during a tragedy or in the good times.

“High on the mountain or low in the valley, there’s always been a true sense of family with those in the community. And that’s the thing I think I cherish the most, is that love never fails, as Paul said, and that love will extend to everyone who will come and listen to the Word.

“I think again, if we can be remembered as promoting and making sure everyone knew that that pulpit was never my pulpit, it’s always God’s pulpit,” he said, “and as being God’s pulpit, He’s reaching out to whomsoever that will listen. And the defining thing would be that that church is not the building, it’s the body, and the body should be out including everyone.”

Pomeroy and his wife Sherri have sold their home to their youngest son Korey and daughter-in-law Ashley, downsized their belongings to a camper trailer and are planning a brief road trip before returning to Texas, perhaps for a campground ministry. But he’s not certain of God’s plan.

Their 14-year-old daughter Annabelle was among those killed when Devin Kelley walked in the church and began shooting indiscriminately in what remains the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history. Kelley fled the scene and shot himself to death.

The church survived the tragedy by choosing victory, Pomeroy said.

“We could have been validated by the world to choose hate and ugliness and play the victim card,” he preached, “or we could choose to say we are not victims, we are victors. We choose to put our faith in something greater than ourselves. … I don’t understand, but I know I can’t go back and change what’s already done, but I choose from this day forward to say, ‘Lord, You are in control.’ And God has taken that, has made Sutherland Springs a lighthouse on a hill.

“We still get letters that say, ‘I was an atheist, but because of the way you guys handled this situation. …’ Why is that happening? Because we chose to lift up Jesus.”

Pomeroy encouraged the church to embrace humility, which goes beyond individual pain.

“Because of my knowledge of You (God),” he said, “I will take what You have given us that tastes so bad, but I will still use it to share the Gospel for Your glory. And that is what God has chosen to honor and bless.”

Pomeroy’s goal was to stay at First Sutherland Springs as long as the Lord willed, he told the congregation of 200 during the farewell sermon Sept. 25 from Acts 20:17-35.

“Whether I’m here physically or not does not change the fact that God does not leave,” he told the congregation. “You are the church. Each one of us individually is the church. We assemble together as First Baptist Sutherland Springs. Therefore, as we being the church, as long as we are getting stronger in the Lord as individuals of the church, together in unison … we will always be stronger as Sutherland Springs.”

The church has demolished the building where the shootings occurred and has preserved an open-air memorial to those killed. Since 2019, the congregation has worshiped in a new facility funded by the North American Mission Board with gifts made through the Southern Baptist Convention and other donations.

First Sutherland Springs bought the former Sweet Spirit Baptist Church building in the nearby town of St. Hedwig and in April, opened a north campus about 15 miles north of the main location.

Despite the congregation’s resolve, the Pomeroys find some days more difficult than others.

“There’s still ups and downs, and I don’t think you ever fully handle the loss of a child,” he said. “But as a family in Sutherland Springs, not just my biological family but the church family, we chose to look to something greater than ourselves for understanding.

“Although I might have done things differently, God has brought so many to Christ through this. God’s using her martyrdom and the others to bring others to His saving grace.”

When people ask Pomeroy what the new sanctuary in Sutherland Springs cost, he doesn’t recite a dollar amount.

“I say it cost 26 lives,” he said. “I look at all 26 lives that were lost, including Annabelle, as the blood that was spilled for that church there in Sutherland Springs.

“The blood on this ground is what built this church, and God’s going to honor that.”

This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.