My Mornings are for God
In 1980, at an evening session of the Texas Baptist Evangelism Conference in Dallas, I heard the late and great W.A. Criswell challenge pastors to give their mornings to God. The following Sunday, I stood before the small church I pastored, the First Baptist Church of Milford, Texas, and announced to them my decision to give my mornings completely to God for prayer and study. All these years, I have lived by this firm commitment. So what do I do in this time with God?
My Morning Schedule, Sunday through Thursday
Over the years, on a typical day, my schedule has evolved into me typically getting up at 3:00 a.m. from Sundays through Thursdays. If I am traveling, this schedule is negotiated and, of course, Sunday is a very different kind of day due to responsibilities.
On Saturday nights I usually struggle going to sleep, anticipating the day ahead. My goal is to be in bed with lights off by 10:15 p.m., if possible. My alarm goes off at 3:00 a.m. and I head into the family room, get a cup of strong coffee or green tea, my iPad, (on which I keep my prayer list), my Bible, and my journal. I begin in prayer, moving into the Word, interweaving with prayer, and journaling a prayer to God — which I’ve done daily since January 1, 1990. I am a big believer in having a spiritual journal.
At 4:45 a.m. I jog on my treadmill for an hour, going over my sermon, praying through it, and talking through it aloud. This is where I move to mastering the sermon. After an hour on the treadmill, I call a prayer partner for a few minutes. I have called this man every Sunday morning since 1989, it is a practice I strongly encourage pastors to develop. I then eat a very light breakfast and head for the shower.
By 7:35 a.m. I am on my way to church. After touching base with our leaders for ten minutes, I am in my office for prayer and additional study. By 8:40 a.m. I am on my way to greet church members and guests in an informal setting and by 9:00 a.m. I walk into a prayer room with several men who lay hands on me and pray for me. By 9:10 a.m. I walk into our worship center, greet more people, and begin the worship experience. At the present time, I preach two major services, one at our Springdale campus and another at our Pinnacle Hills campus. After the second service, Jeana and I greet people for at least 20 minutes, we usually leave the campus around 1:00 p.m. I may or may not have a luncheon, but whatever the schedule, I look forward to a brief nap in the afternoon.
Monday Mornings through Thursday Mornings
Again, the alarm goes off at 3:00 a.m. After water goes on my face and I grab coffee or green tea to help me start the day, I head to my home study. The first 90 minutes of my morning are spent in prayer and the Word devotionally. I reference a long prayer list on my iPad, which continually grows and is updated. I always end up in my prayer journal, writing a prayer to God daily.
By 4:45 a.m. I am totally into my sermon preparation. I take this very seriously. For a pastor, there is nothing that is more important than developing your personal walk, followed by preparation to teach and preach the Word of God. From 4:45 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., with the exception of one hour for exercise and personal fitness, I am in study preparation. Sometimes I will respond to emails if it fits into the moment. If not, I wait. By 10:30 a.m. I am in the shower and by 11:30 a.m. I am on my way to a lunch meeting.
Friday and Saturday Mornings
I usually sleep in until 6:00 a.m. on Fridays and 6:30 a.m. on Saturdays. I always begin my day with God for at least an hour to 90 minutes. On Saturday mornings, I move into sermon preparation, mainly working on memorizing the sermon. I finish around 9:00 a.m., which during college football season is just in time for my favorite television program, ESPN’s “College Game Day.”
Take Away for Pastors Today: Give Your Mornings to God!
Giving your morning to God will transform your life and ministry. Nothing, and I repeat nothing, is more important than your own personal spiritual development and walk with God. It will transform your life and ministry. So pastors, devote yourself to a deep study time giving yourself to prayer and the study of God’s Word.
Yours For The Great Commission,
This past week has been powerful for both the Cross Church family and myself. Today, I will lead the final Passion Week luncheon at our Pinnacle Hills campus – a campus that will simultaneously be preparing for a dynamic event this evening with the Cross Church Worship Choirs and the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas.
To those of you who have attended the Passion Week lunches, thank you, and I hope these events have deepened your understanding of the significance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you were unable to attend, video of each of these special events is available here. I encourage you to watch these videos and prepare your heart for Easter weekend praise and worship.
Easter Weekend is Here!
All of the Passion Week events have led to this weekend – Easter weekend! Your Cross Church ministry team and family will be celebrating our Risen King at 14 Easter Weekend worship services across our four campuses. At each of these 14 services, we will study “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ From The Dead” from Matthew 27:62–65; 28:1–15.
My hope and prayer is that our people will fully understand the implications of the death and burial of Jesus Christ, and then come to recognize and rejoice in the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We Can’t Wait to Welcome Your Guests
Throughout the past two weeks the Cross Church campus pastors and I have encouraged you to invite guests to Easter Weekend worship, and I hope that you have done so. Cross Church, I assure you people will come when asked. There is still ample time to send your friends, neighbors, and coworkers a quick email or text message inviting them to fellowship and worship with you.
If you have already invited guests to join you this weekend, start praying for them now. Pray that they absorb the Easter message and respond accordingly. Also, please pray for our worship teams, our campus pastors, our volunteers, and for me. This is the biggest weekend of the year and we would all appreciate your prayers and encouragement.
Our Easter Weekend Schedule:
Thank you Cross Church, I look forward to praising the Risen King with you this weekend.
Your Pastor and Friend,