Author Archives: Todd K Estes

About Todd K Estes

In this journey called Life, it gets a bit muddy - But Jesus sees beyond the mud and sees the person He created, the person He loves, and the person He is still working on. I am one of those persons - and so are you. I am a sold-out follower of Jesus, husband way out of my league, father to a great son, part of the family of God, and pastor of a great church family - Evergreen Baptist in Appomattox.

The Messy Desk

Every Monday I walk in to my office and look upon the papers strewn across the laminate desktop. I see cords unplugged and coffee cups that have a science project material forming due to their being left there all weekend. Maybe it’s not the desk. Maybe its a workbench – a classroom – the floorboard of your car …

Maybe it’s the pile of laundry. You did it all 6 hours ago – but you turn around and – wham – the pile has reformed.

Every Monday I seem to prove the well accepted as truth 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. I wish Rudolf Class had come up with something else in 1850 (the one whop originally put forth the postulate we now accept as a LAW). Systems tend to go from order to chaos. Leave your kids’ bedrooms to themselves and pretty soon they will be madness, madness I say. A closed system requires energy to stay in order. Things wear down, break down, and become disorderly.

It’s not just my desk – it’s my life. I too see my body breaking down, my order to my systems becoming chaotic. Once I thought – maybe getting married will help keep my life in order. Oops. Then it was – maybe having a kid or two will force me to bring order to my life. Children are the epitome of chaos – its cause and an example of such talked about chaos.

So – what can we do?

On Mondays, I spend great effort to cleaning off, organizing, and getting my desk ready for the work of that week. I take time to get it ready to be functional again. But for only a week – because next week, the chaos returns.

However, we have a great God who takes care of us. Who solved our biggest problem – where will spend eternity. He took the chaos, the uncertainty, the fear of the future and settled that issue once in for all. True, we still haven’t seen everything in subjection and put in proper order, but there is a way to express something as completed even when we don’t see it completed yet. A certainty of things to come.

That’s what Jesus does for those who call upon Him. He brings order from chaos. Maybe we don’t see it completely, but He completed everything that was necessary for us to be certain we will experience it.

So today, my desk is a mess – and I will temporarily put it back in order. But also today – my life is in a mess (Muddy Shoes and all) – but God has done everything to make sure I will have order from all this chaos.

Does He do this for you? He does if you believe.

The Hero of His Story … Sneak Peek for 10.2.22

His story is my story. His story is your story.

He had so much potential … created to do great things and to be in close fellowship with the Loving God. But his story took a hard and calamitous turn. He blew it. He messed up. And his bad turn had disastrous consequences.

His story is one of struggle, one of suffering, one of separation from the God who created him. His story is one that ends in tragedy, despair, death. But the story doesn’t end there. His story didn’t end that way … or in my case it won’t.

For into his story stepped a hero.

This hero came … not like the Hulk, or Batman, or the Wonder Twins. Not a fictional hero but he came into our story as a real human … living the life as was intended for us … to reveal that life — taking our place in the suffering … to redeem our lives — providing a way for us to get back to that for which we were created … to restore our lives.

This hero came … fully God, fully human … to reveal, redeem, restore … me … you!

This hero came … 2000 year ago but still lives. Defeating the fear of death. Destroying the enemy. Declaring us … his family!

This hero came … and His name … Jesus.

Sunday 10-2, I will be sharing about this hero. But you can read about him and what he did before then.

HEBREWS 2.5-18 (esv) … Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.”And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

A New Office Set Up

She is entering a new stage in her life. She is (in my humble but yet correct point of view) excellent at what she does and may be the best in her field. Her realm of experience covers being a Paralegal, Executive Assistant for C-Ring levels, Deputy Director of her collegiate area, typist/proofreader for several authors and post graduate thesis writers, and on and on. When I was doing grad and post grad work, I often would dictate my papers to her and she would type away as I droned. I may be bias, but she is the best.

Next week, she begins a new stage in her career. With a lateral move to the College of Business at the University, this will take another challenge upon her long and much under appreciated field.

Okay, I may have written more than normal about her in the above paragraphs, but I do think she deserves so much more than she receives.

Now, to the point of today’s Muddy Shoes. This new phase brings a new dimension. She will regularly work several days a week from home. Some say we will save in money due to gas – but I am not so sure. I have a feeling I will be her personal GrubHub, a go to Door Dash. “Todd, can you get me a coffee?” – “Todd, I would love a smoothie, Dear” – “Honey, is today the day the donut truck is in town? I would love one, or a dozen!” (okay, that last now may be for me.) And having her at home is going to cut into my personal siesta time.

However, this new phase brings a new challenge – I want to create a personal and proficient home-office space. We have the room (removed a guest room that went to the basement.) We are looking at ergonomic chairs, probably a gaming chair. I am making a table/desk out of a piece of cherry wood that came off the top of my mother’s old hope chest dating back to the 1940s (the chest fell apart but I salvaged the lid.)

Hey wait, am I getting the short end of this?

I realize working at home isn’t new. She has done this before (weather conditions, covid lockdowns, quarantines.) But this is long term, regular basis – and I want the best for her.

People plan so much for a variety of things. Whether it’s nursery for a new child, ADA bathroom for a senior, exercise equipment for a home gym – so many phases. We buy, install, refurbish, collect. And then there are the preparations for the unknown – generators, food stashes, emergency kits, boarding windows for Hurricane Ian, toilet paper hoarding, anything.

But how much do we prepare for spiritual events? Battles in the desert? Temptations that sneak up on us, or even hit us without any sneaking up? Doubts? Dryness? Silence from God?  These are tough and many spend very little effort preparing for these.  How can we prepare?

Here are few ways I can think of off the top of my head:

  • Hide His Word in your heart – it will help in the fight of temptation, it will bring peace, it will edify and equip you (Psalm 119.11)
  • Fix your eyes on Him – by keeping your mind and view on the Savior, it will help you to be able to stay on the right course (Hebrews 12.2)
  • Build hedges of protection – guardrails that keep you form drifting, rumble strips that warn you that you are getting off the road, beeping that says your drifting (Hosea 2.6)
  • Hang out with people that will hold you accountable, that encourage and build you up (Proverbs 27.17) – it is the lone deer the wolf goes after
  • Daily take up the spiritual armor – it’s not about you, but what He has done for you (Ephesians 6)

So, for today, I fix up a home-office for my wife. But everyday I need to prepare my walk with and for my Savior and Lord. Will you?

NOTE: All pictures are Googled – I will post some when I am done.
2nd NOTE: I reposted due to internet glitch.

Words in a Journal, Names on a List

The entries are there. And they were written down before any electronic records were kept. It goes back before Xerox or photocopies. Okay, not too far back. After Guttenburg (the printing press) but before the the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Early 20th century.

Today, I had a quest – a quest to discover an important date of one’s life. There are important dates we all look back to – weddings, births, funerals, baptisms. These used to be kept in the family Bible. But today, I was asked to find a baptismal date.

It started when I lost a friend. He was in his 90s and had experienced a long and adventurous life. Born in the same community were he still lived, this man had served in the national guard. Seen children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He leaves two siblings behind, but joins his others in heaven.

So, when was he baptized?

He joined the church in 1980. Maybe 1979. But no. That was when he returned to the church. For a while, he and his family attended elsewhere. They said he returned by “experience” which I am not exactly sure what that means – another mystery in this quest. Another record had he joined by statement. The issue was far from settled.

These records had not been photographed. The written journals were all that remains. Pages were yellow. Bindings were coming apart. We keep them in a large, fire-proof safe/file cabinet. Some of the records had been converted to a simple typed list of membership, but I discovered those occasionally got transferred incorrectly.

So I looked for his father’s membership, and they joined in in the late 1920s. The roarin’ 20s. I am not sure how much this farmland community roared, but I know they were faithful, strong workers with the land and in raising families. Many of those families are still connected to the church today.

People’s lives. History of relationships. Interactions both pleasant and unpleasant. One business meeting’s had minutes that shared charges against a pastor. Accusations of members carousing? with groups of drunken hooligans. People declared out of order and silenced in the meeting. What was going on?

And then a follow up entry one week later – the pastor had resigned. Wow, politics in a church before there was social media? (please read the sarcasm, irony, and humor in the last sentence.)

Back to the main story. I looked up when my friends parens joined. And there it was – an entry of a baptism. It had his parents and how they joined. Then a few lines later – a baptism. No month. Just a year. He would have been 13 or 14. I am not sure who baptized him, for the pastor left that year to be a chaplain in the Army. Not knowing the month and all. More research needs to be done.

Records … words in a journal … simple letters that form these words … and these words tell us a story. And we need these stories. A time will come when no one will be around that knows these stories. And then the stories may be lost. The pages will get yellower. The letters will fade. The words will disappear. But the stories don’t have to.

I encourage you to write down the stories. Put them where future generations can read them.

Churches have some great stories – scary at times – but great. Let’s not lose them.

Which Church is Better?

I have served at several churches. Each of them have its own distinctive personality. I am reflecting anthem because one of them is celebrating their 75th anniversary. That church is a smaller church that loves God, has a strong tenure in their pastors, and

I have served at a church that was part of the original group that formed the Southern Baptist Convention. It dates back to 1827 and still serves strong. This was a larger church (for that area) that ministered to a small town setting.

I served at a brand new church that has relocated, rebranded, restructured, but continues to remain relevant to people in their suburban community.

I have served at a church in the middle of Louisiana – very rural. It wasn’t farmland but lots of fishermen and hunters. Not appreciating fishing nor ever fired a gun, this was an unusual culture for my character.

And now I am in a farmland, heartland, rural community that has a strong historical connection to the Civil War … we are a few miles from the site where General Lee surrendered to General Grant … with a motto: Where Our Nation Reunited.

I’ve attended so many more, was a preacher’s kid at more, and appreciated the diversity from double digit in attendance to tens of thousands … from large, loud services to sober, liturgical settings … from young families with many children to elderly where nurseries have remained empty for weeks. And yes, I appreciated aspects about each one and desired change in each one.

But to ask … Which Church is Better?

They all preached Christ. They all were built on the foundation of the Word. They all loved Jesus and each other. Not every church can say that. And the fact that each of these can say it means I have been blessed.

I don’t know where you attend – but I hope you attend one that Loves God, Loves Other, Grows in the Word, and is Spirit filled and Spirit led.

And – to the one that is celebrating 75 years – may there be 75 and more where you continue to live for Christ.

Monday Minute

In less than 60 seconds – THINK.

It’s Monday. What is your mind dwelling on? What are you THINKing about?

Is it TRUE … not uncertainties, unknown but truth. Things we can trust. Think the Bible – God’s Word is truth.

Is it HELPFUL … think positive, uplifting – not negative, destructive

Is it INSPIRING … maybe instead of looking at what is wrong and how to tear apart with something, let’s think of ways to encourage, inspire, encourage each other to good works.

Is it NOBLE … honorable, pure, right, lovely, excellent, worthy of praise – dwell on these things.

Is it KUDOS … Kudos means praise, for glory – but not for us, for God – do we give praise to God.

Today, I will THINK on Him … the One who True, Helpful, Inspiring, Noble, worthy of Kudos. Today, I will THINK on Christ.

What are you thinking about?

Old Hotel Trail off the Appalachian Trail

It’s nestled in the 7500 plus acres of the Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area and the even larger George Washington & Thomas Jefferson National Forest (about 1.8 MILLION square miles.) It is part of the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge Mountains and has miles and miles of trails. So yesterday, I headed to Mount Pleasant trailhead and decided to trod a new trial. Between the Mount Pleasant and AT (Appalachian Trail) is the Little Hotel (aka Old Hotel) Trail. The 3 miles takes you from Hog Gap Parking to Cow Gap right near the open meadows of Cole Mountain. The trail is like a dividing line between Mount Pleasant and the AT part on Cole Mount.

To be clear – I saw no cows and no hogs. I did see dears and bugs and birds – but no farm animals.

The name apparently doesn’t come from any hotel that existed – but from the name of a farmer who many trekkers used his old abandoned house for overnight respites. Even today, the AT has a sleeping hut and privy where the trails connect.

The trail is filled with diversity and beauty. It begins with a mile long, rut-deep, bouncy fire road. This was why I bought the FJ Cruiser in the first place. From the small off the off-road parking spots, you immediately hit the forest filled with acres and acres of ferns that were closing in the wind. This trail seemed to be rarely walked. I guess most enjoy the more picturesque Mt. Pleasant or the shorter route to Cole Mount.

From the dancing ferns, I immediately hit a deep and dark patch of pine trees. I felt like I was in an eerie nightmare. It was more than the pines, it was also the sky. I checked the weather and it was like 4% chance of rain – stupid weather app. For the next mile, it sprinkled ever so lightly … then it gave a solid soaking for about 30 minutes. But 30 minutes was spread out as the now wet trees begin to drip, drip, drip. By the end of the 6 miles, much of me was soaked.

A good point is my new Merrell Moab 3s held up their water resistance and my feet were completely dry. I do love my Merrell’s.

At one point in the trail, I came upon a slew (?), a bushy area filled with swallows. About 20 to 30 swallows took flight and circled me. I knew I was on their turf so I did not linger.

In about half way – I came across a wall – more of a cattle or hog wall – which I know dates back to the days this areas was actually used for cattle and hog drives and containment.

As you get closer to the apex, the trail begins to have a few switchbacks. Now I could’ve gone off trail and cut through but it was the switchbacks that led to the beautiful overlooks – though with the rain and the after rain mist – the view was limited. The lesson here though is we often look for shortcuts but if we do, we might miss some of the best stuff in life.

As you get closer to the apex, the trail begins to have a few switchbacks. Now I could’ve gone off trail and cut through but it was the switchbacks that led to the beautiful overlooks – though with the rain and the after rain mist – the view was limited. The lesson here though is we often look for shortcuts but if we do, we might miss some of the best stuff in life.

The true delight of this hike is Cole Mountain. Cole Mountain has a huge meadow – or heather – and it is the largest mountain top meadow on the east coast that has both an eastern and western side of the mountain. This meadow is astounding and warrants the best and most romantic picnics any outdoors peeps can plan.

After a 1.5 mile trek on the downward slope of the AT, I arrived back at the trusty FJ that was waiting too take me back home.

For the first day of Fall – this was a good day.

Small Church Preachers

The following comes from an article out of Lifeway Research, written by Matt Hensley. It”s pretty powerful and puts forth the key … pastors of small churches are there because God called them there. And there is no better place than to be exactly where God wants them. Check it out here (but you can read most of it in this article.)

And being a pastor of a small church, this article makes a huge impact.
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Ten percent of churches have more than 250 people and 70% have 100 or fewer … The vast majority of churches are small in attendance. But there seem to be a few myths about the pastors who lead them.

Myth #1: We’re second class

Every church in every context has challenges. A small church pastor’s pain point may be different than a large church pastor’s. And a pastor in the middle of nowhere may have different struggles than the guy who shares a parking lot with Chick-fil-A in the city. (Ok I wish there was a Chick-fil-A close by)

However, those who pastor small churches, particularly small churches in rural towns, are not second class or a tier below pastors of large churches in metropolitan areas. We’re not dumb; we’re different.

It’s not as if the pastors of large churches in the city have made it to the “Big Show,” the Major League, while the guys in unknown towns with a handful of people are in the minor league. It’s not second class, and it’s not a step down; it’s just different.

“While one pastor may have a greater reach and platform than another, neither are more or less significant in God’s kingdom.” — @mhenslee 

After all, a fill-in preacher of a small Methodist church led the “Prince of Preachers” Charles Spurgeon to Jesus. Dear pastor, whether you lead a big or small church in the big city or the middle of nowhere, you matter to God and the kingdom—no matter your so-called influence or platform on earth. …

Myth #2: We lack capacity

Similarly, the pastor of a large church is not necessarily a higher-capacity leader than the pastor of a small church. As the pastor of a previously unknown church in the middle of the mountains in rural New Mexico, I wore every hat there was to wear––preacher, song leader, janitor, audio/video tech, and more.

My choice to serve in the so-called “middle of nowhere” was not because I lacked the capacity to serve a large church in the city. I didn’t serve a small church because I had leadership weaknesses or lacked creativity. I served in the middle of nowhere because God called me there!

“I didn’t serve a small church because I had leadership weaknesses or lacked creativity. I served in the middle of nowhere because God called me there!” — @mhenslee

Just as pastoring a small church in a small town is not a second-class ministry, it also doesn’t signal a lack of ability to be in a big church in the heart of any big city. In fact, while the small church pastor’s “breadth” may be numerically tiny, the need for him to have a greater breadth of expertise as a solo pastor tells me he has just as much capacity or ability as the pastor of the largest church in America.

Myth #3: We hate it here and want to leave

The final myth ties the other two together. Not only are small church pastors not second-class ministers nor lacking the capacity to lead larger churches, but many simply believe they’re called to serve and lead smaller churches in smaller towns and have no desire to leave.

There are exceptions, like a “moving up” mindset that leads some pastors to use various churches as stepping stones to their desired destination. But I call those exceptions for a reason. Most small church pastors I know love leading their churches. And they do so with distinction and zero desire to “advance” to “bigger and better” pastures.”

I was often asked how long I’d “waste” as the pastor of a small church in New Mexico. Only an ailing father led me to an openness to leave. This pulled me kicking and screaming out of my role there and into a new role as an associational missionary.

Some may view my new role as “moving up.” But I only see it as a different role God is using in different ways. Pastor (and Christian), there is no insignificant ministry, whether you serve behind the scenes and out of the limelight or in the most prominent church on the planet. Just be faithful wherever God calls you, and be content to stay there until He takes you elsewhere.

Finally, to the small church pastor, especially, you are seen and known today. Your worth is not in your Twitter reach or how many you have in the pews but in Christ. To the larger church pastor, don’t look down on small church pastors. View them as crucial leaders in God’s work to advance His kingdom.


It’s great to be exactly where I am – a small town that’s a suburb of another small town. And I am here because God called me here! And there is no better place to be.

No matter where you are, preacher or not – if you are where God wants you, then you are exactly where you need to be.

PREVENT the DRIFT

112 seconds read!

It was the 2022 Winter Olympics. The best of the best. 

In the Nordic combined cross country ski event, going in to the last day, the one who crossed the finish line and won the gold was not the winner people expected at the start of the last day’s event. Norwegian’s Jarl Magnus Riiber went into the final day with over a two minute lead. This would be hard to overcome. But Riiber made a very costly mistake. He drifted off the official path and fell behind. Norway’s Joergen Graabak came from behind and won the gold. Riiber corrected himself but too late – he took eighth. 

Drifting is costly – in a cross country and in our spiritual journey. That’s why God warns us in Hebrews to stay the course – and the book gives two key ways to prevent drifting:

Hebrews 3:1 – Fix our thoughts on Jesus … our mind needs to be anchored on Jesus … filtering everything through the Word

Hebrews 12:2 – Fix your eyes on Jesus … take your eyes off the other stuff and focus on the one thing, Jesus

The key is keeping focused on a point of reference, like a ship that focuses on the lighthouse to stay the course and not run into the dangerous reef, rocks, or shallows.

FIX YOUR EYES on JESUS! 

D.A. Carson gives a great quote about drifting and how it leads to dangerous waters …

We drift to COMPROMISE and then call it TOLERANCE
We drift to DISOBEDIENCE and then call is FREEDOM

Let’s do what we can to prevent the drift. (More on this later)

Brand Loyalty

There are times I occasionally go to a restaurant because I like the drink list. Or maybe refrain from an eating establishment because they serve Pepsi and not Dr Pepper. It’s a taste preference … or is it? Maybe we stick with places because of brand loyalty.

Billions is spent to rope people into brand loyalty. Snack and drink venders want to get kids snagged early as they will become life long buyers.  Ads are placed, sneaky discounts for first time users, and other manipulative maneuvers.

It is real and you probably give in to it too, even if subconsciously. 

Last month, my church family had a ‘homemade ice cream’ hang time. Buckets of hand spun, or electronically spun, homemade peach or blueberry or chocolate ice cream. But me? I brought two half gallons of Blue Bell Ice Cream. I have brand loyalty.  And I truly love their Banana Pudding Ice Cream. 

Auto insurance companies give first time or people changing over discounts. They want to lure them in hoping they will stay. 

And in the less than straight forward practice (so I am told), drug dealers give first time users samples that get them committed.

As you walk down the grocery store aisles, do you look for certain brands or do you get the cheapest item? We use loyalty programs to get discounts. We come to remain faithful to items, brands, routines.

And in my biggest brand loyalty – I am an Apple guy through and through. I have iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, Apple TV, iPods. I don’t have the Apple Watch yet … yet. And seem to be stuck in the loyalty look with Apple.

Brand Loyalty …

But the greatest brand loyalty – the greatest continuous life of faith in something – is a faithfulness to God. But know this, it is not a loyalty to a brand but a loyalty to God. Too many people are more concerned about what is Baptist versus what is Biblical. People are more concerned about what they prefer as opposed to what He prefers.

May our brand loyalty be secondary to our loyalty to God.

In Revelation 2:10, the church at Smyrna was promised the crown of life – even in the fear of death. That’s loyalty.

How’s your loyalty to God?