November 29, 2022

  

A Word from Walker

   
The Holiday Season is upon us, whether we are ready or not. From Thanksgiving forward it seems that we seek to cram a lot of activity into about five weeks of time. If we are not careful, we can get distracted by all that is going on and add stress upon stress to our already frantic lives. The effects of this uber-stress can show up in all kinds of ways. For instance, when I am strapped to this “Holiday Roller Coaster” I tend to forget stuff. While this time of year should produce in me great gratitude and joy, my penchant to forget appointments, gifts I need to purchase, or other obligations I have committed to make me feel a little anxious. It is as if a “Holiday Fog” hits me and I lose track of time or get disoriented to what needs to happen next. Thankfully, I am married to a very organized person who does her best to keep me on track.
  
Why as followers of Jesus do we do this? This time of year should make us slow down and be more reflective on how the advent of the Son of God has changed everything. Unfortunately, we too often fall into the materialistic vise-grip of worrying about what to buy, how much to spend or who to add/subtract from our shopping list. On top of that, we scurry about running to parties/events and being secretly resentful about what we feel we have to do, or openly regretful about not being able to do things we feel we should have done. No wonder the pressures that can come with this time of year triggers depression for many.
  
Let me tell you what I am trying to do this year. First, I am learning how to say no more often. Warren Buffett is credited with saying that “Successful people say no to almost everything.” I am not sure that is totally true. Christians should be known for our willingness to go the extra mile, do the hard things and give even when it hurts. And yet, he reveals an important truth: If we almost always say yes we dilute the good we can do. No one has unlimited resources. Running yourself ragged is not a mark of a mature believer. We have to come to grips with our compulsion to please everyone or our out-of-bounds ego need to be seen as indispensable. Saying no creates good boundaries and strengthens us to say bigger yeses in the future.
  
The second thing I am working on this Holiday Season is being in the moment. I know, this is a worn-out phrase. But for someone who struggles with chronic illnesses this means that I can abate my worries over my health by enjoying the good things God has blessed me with in the here and now. Reminding myself to laugh more, forgive more and savor more really does help me move through each day with less anxiety. It is amazing how much I listen to the negative and foreboding voices in my head. When I do, I rob myself of the peace Christ died to give me. Contentment in the present tense is one of the best Christmas gifts you can give yourself.
  
I hope that this Holiday Season you will learn to be deeply generous with yourself so that you can enjoy God’s blessings and be a more focused and filled up servant to others.
   
Merry Christmas!
Walker
 
 
 

November 1, 2022

A Word from Walker

  
Over the last 15 years one of the key life lessons I have been seeking to apply to my life is learning how to be more adaptable. It is not that I haven’t been adaptable before that time, but I think I just needed to see change as a segway to new opportunities rather than just a begrudging reality. This is especially applicable when it comes to unexpected change. I am sure this is no different for anyone else that is reading my article. We all like change that we plan, but it’s often hard to accept it as a pathway towards unexpected blessing when it seemingly overturns our lives. But like the turning of the tides change is inevitable. The key therefore is to find ways to not fight change (unless it is unbiblical) but use it as a lever for growth and development.

For the PMBA, part of this looks like changing our name to Triad Church Network. The Board believes that this new name better reflects our geographic footprint and our forward-looking plans to expand our reach. Our Messengers agreed with this two weeks ago at our Annual Meeting. We will be keeping Pilot Mt. Baptist Association as our legal 501-C-3 designation to honor our past, and in January we will be switching over to our new name. You will be hearing more about this over the next several weeks.
 
 
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For me, there are other changes coming that not only impact my life but also the Association. During the past 3 ½ years I have battled two chronic illnesses that have taken a toll on me. I have worked hard at various strategies to mitigate these challenges, and at times I have experienced some slight relief. Yet overall, these illnesses have been my unwelcomed and honestly, unrelenting companion. In the Summer of 2021 I was talking with my good friend Rick Hughes about this and he made the observation that I was like a person seeking to constantly swim upstream rather than learning how to flow with the current. Since that time, I have sought to incorporate that wisdom into how I processed my health challenges. This past Spring after a very rough patch Gina and I delved into the possibility of me retiring from the Association. After a lot of prayer and counsel we decided that this was the right decision. I informed the Board of this in May, and since that time I have been working with them and the Personnel Team about the next steps that we should take to insure the ongoing stability and prosperity of the PMBA.
 
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What we have come up with is for me to work until we get a new Executive Director and then stay on if needed to help them acclimate to the new role. The Association is in good shape and is poised to move to an even greater dimension of effectiveness. I am thankful to God to have had this opportunity to serve at the PMBA. Some of my most fruitful ministry has occurred during the last 6 ½ years. Many of you have known about my challenges and have offered your care and support. For that I am very grateful. Now, I start to move into a new phase of my life. I look forward to what God has in store for me and this wonderful network of churches.

Your fellow servant in Christ,
Walker