Monday, October 30, 2006

But God!

Yesterday, I continued our exposition of the book of Ephesians with a message from Ephesians 2:4-7. It was a continuation of the message from the previous week, which focused on verses 1-3. Personally, the study of this passage has been refreshing and reinvigorating. I am so grateful for the grace and mercy of God that has saved me through Jesus Christ. And I praise the Lord that he has chosen me to be a herald of the good news. I am also grateful for the privilege of being the teaching pastor at Mt. Sinai Church. I am blessed to be in a place where the primary pressure in preaching is simply to make sure that I get the text right. I am free to preach my convictions about the scripture. And, for the most part, the congregation is receptive of the truth of God words, wherever it may lead us. I am blessed. May the word of God continue to increase among us.

Here is the sermon skeleton from yesterday's message:

Title: “But God!”

Text: Ephesians 2:4-7

Theme: Divine intervention saves sinners through Jesus Christ.

Point: Only God saves!

Transitional Sentence: Ephesians 2:4-7 explains four dynamics of the divine intervention that saves sinners through Christ.


I. The Good News of Divine Intervention (2:4a)

II. The Motivating Factors of Divine Intervention (2:4b-c)

A. The mercy of God is rich (v. 4b).

B. The love of God is grace (v. 4c)

III. The Saving Work of Divine Intervention (2:5-6)

A. God made us alive with Christ (v. 5c).

B. God raised us up with Christ (v. 6a)

C. God seated us with Christ (v. 6b)

IV. The Eternal Purpose of Divine Intervention (2:7)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Litter Further Up Mt. Everest

Last night, we continued our study of Psalm 119 during our midweek worship service. I have not been there in several weeks. And I really missed the worship and fellowship. This particular section of Psalm 119 was not an easy nut to crack. It begins, in verse 113, with the writer declaring, "I hate the double-minded, but I love your law." I meditated on that statement for days, before I remembered that I had seven more verses to study. On the surface, it seems that this opening statement sets a rather stern tone for the rest of the stanza. But, in reality, the section is not as critical as it first seems. The writer is talking tough about ungodly people in order to warn his own hearts about the consequences of disobedience to God. It really is a moving passage of scripture. Likewise, it is interesting that as the writer gets closer to the end of this psalm, his devotion, resolve, and passion do not wane. They intensify. May that be true of all of us as we come to the close of this year.

Here is the sermon skeleton from last night's message:

Title: "Choosing Right and Rejecting Wrong"

Text: Psalm 119:113-120

Theme: Godly determination that overcomes ungodly peer pressure

Point: Your ability to say yes to God is determined by your ability to say no to no to the sins and sinners that hinder obedience.


I. Choosing right and rejecting wrong requires single-mindedness (119:113-115).

A. Single-mindedness towards self (v. 113).

B. Single-mindedness towards God (v. 114).

C. Single-mindedness towards non-believers (v. 115).

II. Choosing right and rejecting wrong requires trust (119:116-117).

A. Trust God to sustain you by his word (v. 116).

B. Trust God to sustain you for his word (v. 117).

III. Choosing right and rejecting wrong requires reverence (119:118-120).

A. You should stand in awe of God for how he deals with the ungodly (vv. 118-119).

B. You should stand in awe of God for how he deals with you (v. 120).

1. Fear the God of the word (v. 120a)

2. Fear the word of God (v. 120b)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Into Ephesians 2

Yesterday, I continued our exposition of Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus. I finally made it into the second chapter of the letter. The passage I am studying consist of verses 1-10. However, I only did the first three verses. I will take me at least two, possible three, more sermons before I finish this passage. I look forward to this being a rich study for me and MSMBC, seeing that this is one of the New Testament statements of the way of salvation: by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone to the glory of God alone. Here is the sermon skeleton from yesterday's message:

Title: “The Tragedy of Life without Christ

Text: Ephesians 2:1-3

Theme: The total depravity of the unredeemed human condition

Point: You have absolutely no hope of getting right with God without faith in Jesus Christ.


I. You are dead without Christ (2:1)

II. You are enslaved without Christ (2:2-3a)

A. The unsaved are enslaved to the world (2:2a).

B. The unsaved are enslaved to the devil (2:2b).

C. The unsaved are enslaved to the flesh (2:3a).

1. The flesh is bound to sinful desires.

2. The flesh is bound to sinful deeds.

III. You are condemned without Christ (2:3b).

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Congratulations to One of the Good Guys!!!

This past Sunday, I preached the pastoral anniversary celebration for my longtime friend Reginald Payne. He has served the Full Gospel Baptist Church in Los Angeles for thirteen years now. (For the record, the name of the church does not reflect its theology. Reginald is as sound as they come. He has simply chosen to honor the previous pastor and the congregation’s history by not changing the name of the church.)

We were junior deacons together at Mt. Sinai. I was eleven when I preached my first sermon. It was during the youth choir’s musical. Reginald was the president of that choir. When I had someone to preach, my father would send Reggie to drive me most of the time. When my father had to travel, Reggie’s mom and dad would baby-sit me. His mom, Patricia, would make Reggie take me with him if he was going somewhere. We were together with my dad in Dallas, when Reggie acknowledged his called into the ministry. We shared responsibility for the youth department. We endured many Tuesday night preachers’ classes together, along with our other young preacher buddies at MSMBC. We helped each other with our messages, when we got an opportunity to preach. My dad named Reginald as his “special assistant” the year he died, without a complaint from the congregation. Months before, when he expressed the desire to do something similar with me one day, a senior member publicly voiced her objections – during Communion!

Reginald was the one who came to the airport to pick me up the day my father died. During that period, we became the closest of friends. We were together the night I was called to pastor Mt. Sinai. We lived together for several years after that. During that time, he was my right-hand man. We even called him “Ready Reggie,” because he always had a message prepared when I needed someone to preach. We were planning of bringing him on fulltime when he was called to pastor Full Gospel. In fact, he had already taken over preaching duties in our 8 AM service, and had begun a series through the book of 2 Corinthians. The congregation was small and struggling when Reginald arrived. But God has used him over these years to develop this congregation in every way. And Reginald is one of the best of the preachers of my generation in our city (even though, with his graying hair, he looks somewhat older than he is. But hey, what can I say, at least he has hair!). Reginald picked up a lot of my father’s pastoral skills. He paid attention and followed my father’s example, unlike some bloggers who will remain anonymous.

I am proud of Reginald. And I am praying that the Lord would continue to bless his wife and daughter. And I pray that the Lord would use him in an ever greater way to spread the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. I am often complaining about my generation of pastors and preachers. But I hope to spend more time turning on the lights, rather than shouting at the darkness. Why should the “bad guys” get all the attention? Reginald, praise God, is one of the “good guys.” He deserves to be commended for his love for God, his pastor’s heart, and his commitment to sound doctrine. Pray that his tribe increases.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Revival @ Progressive in Seattle

I am in Seattle. Last night, I preached the first of three nights for Pastor Curtis Taylor and the Progressive Missionary Baptist Church. The congregation is celebrating sixty-five years of ministry. And this three-night meeting is a part of the celebration, which will continue Friday night and conclude Sunday morning.

I experienced a first yesterday. Of all my travels, it was the first time I had been on a plane with a medical emergency. An older gentleman began to have heart complications. The flight attendants seemed concerned that he was having a heart attack. And the pilots were considering landing, even though we were about and hour and a half away from Seattle. I prayed. But I felt rather helpless. They kept asking if there was a physician on the plane. I wanted to say, “No, but I’m a pastor. And I can pray.” But they asked everyone to stay in their seats. And they did not want other passengers crowding around. So I sat in my seat and prayed. They did not have to land early. And he was able to walk off the plane, with the paramedics help. Praise God for that. I hope he is alright.

Last night’s service was special for several reasons. First, it was a real expression of trust for this pastor to invite me to come to minister to his congregation. I am grateful. Likewise, some of my family members (on my wife’s side) came out to hear me preach. It was good to see them. Somehow, their presence made me feel at home in the service. Finally, three young men from Regent College in Vancouver drove two and a half hours to hear me preach – one brother was from Canada, another from Africa, and one from Florida. They have heard about my ministry from several sources. And they have listened to my messages on our church’s website. So they came out to hear me in person. They were very kind. But I was definitely more honored to meet them, then the other way around. Even though I was wiped out, we all went to share a meal. And it was past midnight before we left our conversation. It was wonderful fellowship. I praise God that the Lord is indeed raising up young men who are committed to sound doctrine. I really needed that reminder. And I appreciate their determination to come and encourage me to keep preaching the word. May the Lord bless those young me as they finish their formal studies. And may he use them in a great way for his glory.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I Finally Made It Back to Ephesians

Yesterday, I resumed our exposition of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians during our Sunday morning workship services. I preached the first part of the passage, verses 15-19, more than a month ago. I did verses 19-23 this time, finishing this opening chapter of the letter. Here is the sermon skeleton:

Title: “God’s Power on Display in Christ

Text: Ephesians 1:19-23

Theme: God’s Power on Display in Christ

Point: Jesus Christ himself is the ultimate proof of God’s power to change your life.

Transition Sentence: Verses 20-23 highlight four ways God’s power to change your life was put on display through Christ.


I. God raised Jesus Christ from the dead (v. 20).

II. God seated Jesus Christ at his right hand (vv. 20-21).

A. The authority of Christ is universal (v. 21).

B. The authority of Christ is unending (v. 21)

III. God placed all things under the feet of Jesus Christ (v. 22).

IV. God gave Jesus Christ as Head of all things to the church (vv. 22-23).

A. Christ is the Head of the church (v. 22).

B. The church is the body of Christ (v. 23).

Friday, October 13, 2006

Reading an Answer to Prayer

During my flight home from Detroit today, I read God, Grits, and More by Dr. R.A. Williams, Jr., who pastors the McCoy Memorial Baptist Church in Los Angeles. He is also the president of the WHW Conference on Bible exposition. I was a boy preacher when I first heard him. I had gone to hear Pastor Melvin Wade speak at a local church. The two were doing the meeting together. But I had never heard of Dr. Williams. And I knew I would not make it back to the meeting. So I bought a tape of Dr. Williams. It was some time later before I actually listened to the tape. But when I did, my mind was blown and heart was stirred. I cannot describe the immediate impact his preaching had on me. And over the years, Dr. Williams has greatly influenced my commitment to Bible exposition, even from afar. And on the rare times I have had the opportunity to be in his company, his kindness has been a great encouragement to this young preacher.

In recent years, I have consistently prayed that Dr. Williams would put something into print. The annual conference on Bible exposition that he leads has been a blessing to me, as it has for many others across the country. But I have been concerned that more African-American Bible “scholars” (and how many of those would you say there are around?) and “expositors” (again, how many true expositors are there around?) publish their work. I hope that this doesn’t sound racist (it is definitely not intended to be). But my life and ministry have been edified by the written works of many “white” pastors and teachers. And as a young preacher, it is grieves me that so few of the men from my culture have published their Bible exposition or their theory of exposition. I can think of many men who have much to contribute. And the model provided by the faithful men among us is desperately needed, with so many bad examples occupying such prominent pulpits. Grits is indeed an answer to my prayers. Sort of.

I have prayed that Dr. Williams would write. But I expected that he would write something on preaching. Or that he would write something from the various sequential expositions he has done over the years. This work is definitely not that. It is a more autobiographical piece that addresses the formative experiences and influential people in Dr. Williams’ life. The stories are certainly encouraging. And it’s refreshing to read this pulpit personality share so openly about the matters of his heart. Boyhood challenges, severe poverty, and the passing of loved-ones have directly shaped Dr. Williams into the person he is today. Yet, Dr. Williams writes with confidence that the invisible hand of divine providence has been at work in all of these things to nurture his faith and guide his ministry. Admittedly, this is not what I expected to be reading from Dr. R.A. Williams. But it’s a start. And I praise God for it. And I would encourage you to purchase this book. Read it. Share it with others. And pray that the Lord would continue to lay on Dr. Williams’ heart a desire to set his thoughts, insights, and experiences into print for the benefit of next generation.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Revival @ Oakland Avenue in Detroit

Last night, I began three nights of preaching at the Oakland Avenue Baptist Church in Detroit. Pastor Larry Walker is my host this week. He is kind and generous. And it always a joy to be with around him. This is the third straight year I have had the privilege of ministering to this congregation during the annual Christian education institute and church revival. Dr. William Burwell is doing the Bible institute. He is a provocative teacher, who is zealous about sound doctrine. I am always inspired and challenged when I hear him speak. Please pray for the next two "watches" of this meeting.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Getting Even God's Way

Yesterday, I preached one more message on our "Getting Connected" theme before I return to exposition. It was basically a sermon on forgiveness from the story of Joseph and his brothers. Here is the sermon skeleton:

Title:Getting Even God’s Way

Text: Genesis 50:15-21

Theme: Confidence in God that enables forgiveness of others

Point: Your faith in God is authenticated by your complete forgiveness of others.

Transitional Sentence: Joseph’s response to his brothers' appeal for forgiveness teaches us three ways to get even God’s way.


I. Don’t play God (50:19).

II. View life through the lens of God’s good providence (50:20).

A. Come to grips with the reality of evil (v. 20a).

B. Trust in the overruling providence of God (v. 20b).

III. Treat those you have forgiven as if they have truly been forgiven (50:21).

A. Do not give them any reason to be afraid of you.

B. Give them assurance that you have truly forgiven them.

C. Express your forgiveness by doing what you can to help them.

D. Remember that God has completely forgiven you because of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Happy Birthday H.B. Charles III

Today in my son's seventh birthday. Seven years ago, when he was born, I was on an overnight trip to Atlanta. He was born six weeks premature. I guess he was in a hurry to get here and to get on with things. And I don't think his attitude has changed. This weekend, he informed me, "I am seven now. So I am almost a man." Well, not quite. But he is surely on his way. For months, he has been asking me when he will be able to shave. I told him it will be a while. But I recently bow him a toy shaving kit. When I returned home from work, his kit was in my bathroom - right next to mine. When I asked him about it, he gladly announced, "I am you daddy!" In fact, he regularly offers me a trade: "Daddy, from now on, I'm H.B. Charles Jr. And you be H.B. Charles III." No deal. I keep reminding him, "You are not me." But, secretly, it is really cool that my son wants to be like me. I hope I do not do anything to mess that up. And I pray that the God would saved him and bless him to grow as Jesus grew: in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52).

Thursday, October 05, 2006

From Macon/Warner Robbins to LA

I am at the airport in Atlanta, awaiting my flight home. I have been in Georgia the last two days, with Pastor Maurice Watson. His congregation, Beulahland Bible Church (one church, two locations - Macon & Warner Robbins), is in revival this week. And Pastor graciously asked me to bring the message for the Wednesday night service. First of all, Pastor Maurice Watson is one of the best Bible preachers in this country - hands down. And the Lord is doing a great work through him at Beulahland. The Tuesday night service was held at the Warner Robbins location. Last night's service was held at the Macon location.

The service last night was rich. The music department of Beulahland Church are a joy to hear, and they really set the atmosphere for preaching. And the congregation of Beulahland is a good house to preach in. The congregation was warm, attentive, and receptive. I took my best shot at preaching. I trust and pray that the Lord was pleased with the message, and that it will bear fruit in the days to come. The meeting ends tonight with another California preacher: Dr. Clayborn Lea. Remember this meeting, Pastor Watson, and the Beulahland Church in your prayers. The church needs more positive examples and faithful preachers like Maurice Watson. May his tribe increase.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Revival at Beulahland

I am in Atlanta. I am here to preach Wednesday night for Pastor Maurice Watson at the Beulahland Bible Church in Macon. This is an unscheduled trip for me. The scheduled speaker for Wednesday night was not able to come. So Pastor Watson asked me to fill in. All he had to do was ask. And here I am. Pastor Watson is a homiletical hero, a pastoral mentor, and a dear friend. And I am honored that he asked me to come and share the word with his congregation.

I flew in a day early to hear the Tuesday night speaker: Dr. William Curtis, who pastors the Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in Pittsburgh. I have heard recordings of Dr. Curtis. And I have been richly blessed by his preaching. I was eager to hear him in person. And he did not disappoint. He preached an obscure text of scripture. But his exposition of that passage was clear, powerful, and challenging. The Lord really used him tonight. I was a great worship experience. Pray for me that the Lord would use me to preach the word in Wednesday night's meeting.