Monday, December 31, 2007

My Final Sermon for 2007

Yesterday, I preached my final sermon for 2007 to be beloved congregation, Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church. I wavered between several things during the week, trying to find determine what to preach. I was praying for something that would challenge our congregation to examine themselves and renew their personal devotion to the Lord before the new year. I landed on one verse: 1 John 1:9. I preached an exposition on that verse and challenged the congregation to be honest with God about their sins and trust God’s promises to forgive their sins and cleanse their own unrighteousness. My congregation endured an hour long message on the confession of sin. I pray that much fruit will come from it. Here is the sermon skeleton.

TITLE: “Being Honest with God”

TEXT: 1 John 1:9

THEME: The confession of sin

POINT: You can be delivered from the bondage of guilt when you confession your sins to God.


I. The place of confession

A. Confession of sin is a necessary part of the Christian life.

B. Confession of sin is a normal part of the Christian life.

II. The practice of confession

A. Take personal responsibility.

B. Be specific.

C. Repent.

D. Do it promptly.

III. The power of confession

A. Confess your sins with confidence in God’s holy character.

1. God is faithful to his promises.

2. God is just in his actions.

B. Confess your sins with confidence in God’s amazing grace.

1. God gives forgiveness from the penalty of sin.

2. God gives cleansing from the pollution of sin.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Prayer of Agur

This past Sunday, I preached from Proverbs 30:7-9. It is a prayer of a man named Agur (Prov. 30:1) - the only prayer recorded in the book of Proverbs. The prayer of Agur is the counterpart to the prayer of Jabez (1 Chron. 4:9-10). Here is the sermon skeleton:

TITLE: “The Wise Prayer of a Weak Man”

TEXT: Proverbs 30:7-9

THEME: A prayer for a Godward life

POINT: Wise people confront their spiritual weaknesses through prayer.

Introductory points: There are several lessons we can learn from the way in which Agur prayed:

1. The manner of our prayers should honor God.
2. The focus of our prayers should honor God.
3. The content of our prayers should honor God.

TRANSITIONAL SENTENCE: We need God to remove the things that contradict a godly life and keep us from the things that corrupt a godly life.


I. The 1st thing: Remove from me the things that contradict a godly life (30:8a).

A. Agur prays against two things that contradict a godly life.

1. Deceit: falsehood
2. Dishonesty: lies

B. There are two ways that falsehood and lies hinder godliness:

1. Godliness is hindered by our own falsehood and lies.
2. Godliness is hindered by the falsehood and lies of others.

C. There is only one way to overcome falsehood and lies: The Lord must remove it far away from you.

II. The 2nd Thing: Do not give me the things that corrupt a godly life (30:8b).

A. The request:

1. Do not give me poverty.
2. Do not give me riches.

B. The reason:

1. The peril of prosperity: An abundance of provision can lead to indifference toward God (v. 9a).
2. The peril of poverty: A lack of provision can lead to irreverence toward God (v. 9b.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. - Isaiah 9:6-7 (ESV)

From my family to yours, merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pictures from the Pastoral Anniversary

Here are some pictures from this past weekend.

Clint, Ronald, H.B., Barry, Reginald.

H.B. and Natalie

H.B. (III) and Natalie

H.B. and Dr. John A. Reed, Jr.

H.B. (III), Natalie, H.B., Crystal (and the one in the "oven")

My 9th Wedding Anniversary

Crystal and I are celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary today. It was a quiet and slow day. No agenda. Just hanging out. Several long, leisurely meals together. A few long walks. Much window shopping. It was a great day. Now I can't wait for our tenth wedding anniversary. And our fiftieth!

Happy anniversary, Crystal!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Win is a Win

In other important weekend news, the Dallas Cowboys performed some second-half heroics to the defeat Detroit "Whachumacallem's" 28-27.

By the way, did any of you boxing fans see Floyd Mayweather knock out Ricky Hatton Saturday night? Wow!

Celebrating 17 Years of Pastoral Ministry

This past weekend, we celebrated my seventeenth pastoral anniversary at Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church. It was a wonderfully encouraging weekend, for which I am deeply grateful.

On Friday night, the sons of MSMBC worshiped with us. And Pastor Ronald Saunders of the Rhema Community Church in La Puente (CA) brought the message. On Sunday morning, my “Pop”, Dr. John A. Reed of the Fairview Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, brought the message. And on Sunday afternoon, my pastor, Dr. Melvin Wade of the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, brought the message.

I am grateful for all of my colleagues, friends, and sister-congregations that joined us for the services. Some of you even sent greetings and expressions from different parts of the country. Thank you so much for making this weekend so memorable.

Thank you Mt. Sinai for your continued support, prayers, and encouragement. I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to serve such good people. You have been so kind to my family. And I want you to know that I deeply appreciate all that you have done for me. And I pray that the Lord will grant the coming years to be even more fruitful as we serve together to the glory of God!

To God alone be the glory for the things that he has done!

Friday, December 07, 2007

17 Years and Counting

This evening we will celebrate my pastoral anniversary at Mt. Sinai. The celebration will conclude on Sunday afternoon. Here is a brief article I wrote in this month's church newsletter about anniversary celebration.

17 Years and Counting…
When people hear that I was called to pastor MSMBC while still a senior in high school, they often respond with a look that says, “What in the world…?” I understand their concern and share their shock. It really is amazing. And the years seem to have past so quickly. Yet it feels like a lifetime of events have taken place in these seventeen years.

I am often asked what it was like to begin this work at seventeen. And what has it been like to pastor the same church – my father’s congregation, no less – for seventeen years. The answers are rather simple and clear to me. First of all, God has been strong, gracious, and faithful. Over the years of my ministry, I have had opportunities that some men never have after a lifetime of ministry work. Many lives have been impacted for Christ through my ministry in spite of me. To God be the glory!

Likewise, the word of God has proven to be true, powerful, and sufficient. I am both too dumb and too smart to build my ministry on anything but the word of God. And I am more convinced than ever that the word of God will stand when the world is on fire. I think I am just a glorified Sunday School teacher. Of course, I try to be clear, applicable, and interesting (with various degrees of success). But I basically go to the pulpit with the conviction that either the Spirit of God is going to do something dynamic through the scriptures or my preaching is a doomed exercise in futility. And over and over again, the word of God does its work. Praise God!

Furthermore, you have been wonderful congregation to serve. When people ask what was it like to be a pastor at seventeen, I think it would be better to ask MSMBC what it was like to have a seventeen-year-old pastor. I have learned much about leadership through trial and error. In fact, I often tease that I should write a book on pastoral leadership entitled, “Oops.” Yet through it all, this congregation has been prayerful and supportive. Can a pastor be more blessed? May the Lord give us many more fruitful years together to win more Christians and develop better Christians to the glory of God.

Finally, I am grateful to God for the partnership of my wife Crystal over the past decade. I have learned much about the grace of God by the way Crystal cares for me and supports me. Her respect and encouragement and friendship has meant (and means) more than you (or she) will ever know. And what can I say about H.B. and Natalie? They remind me that I am not the “big-shot” that some people think I am. To them, I am just their silly daddy who happens to preach. And that’s the coolest thing in the world! Truly, I face the days ahead with gratitude, hope, and confidence in our great God.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Browse My Library

I have been cataloging my personal library through Library Thing. I am not finished yet. I have several hundred more books to add to complete my catalog. But here is what I have. There are books on all kinds of subjects here. There are the sermon outline books I bought as a boy preacher. There are the my reference works. There are the commentaries I have collected over the years. There are also books on pastoral ministry, church dynamics, preaching, sermon illustrations, and Christian living. I also have books on African American subjects and by African American authors. And I also have some "junk food." I know that life is too short to read bad books. But there are times when I feel like reading just for fun. So you will find those on this list as well. So feel free to browse through the titles. And keep a look out for the updates I will add as I finish my catalog.

To link to my library click here. And note that there is a link to the right of my blog page under my links that you can click to get to my library at any time.

Remember, there are no better minds. Just better libraries!

Finishing Mark 5

I completed the series on the miracles of Mark 4-5 this past Sunday. I preached the miracle Jesus performed for Jairus and his sick, dying daughter. This was a interesting, challenging passage to preach - along with the woman with the issue of blood. As an theologian and expositor, I am absolutely convinced that the miracles of Mark 5 are historically true. And I firmly believe that these miracles rightly affirm the divine power and sovereign authority of Jesus over sickness and death. But as a pastor I am aware that, if Jesus tarries, my people will have to face sickness and death. This is the challenge of the pulpit. If you don't have a pastor's heart, it's easy to preach texts like this with triumphalistic claims. You must boldly preach with pastoral sensitivity. I took my best shot at it this Sunday. My goal was that the congregation would leave the worship service believing that Jesus has the last word in every situation. Here is the sermon skeleton.

TITLE: “Trust Jesus at a Dead-End”

TEXT: Mark 5:21-24, 34-43

THEME: The sovereign authority of Jesus over death

POINT: Jesus has the last word in every situation.

TRANSITION SENTENCE: Jesus last the last word when disappointment speaks, when doubt speaks, and even when death speaks.


I. Jesus has the last word disappointment speaks (5:35-36).

A. Jairus’ heart is broken by the words of the messengers (v. 35).

B. Jairus’ heart is comforted by the words of the Master (v. 36).

II. Jesus has the last word doubt speaks (5:37-39).

A. The world says that death is the end (v. 38).

B. Jesus says that death is not the end (v. 39).

III. Jesus has the last word death speaks (5:40-43).

A. Jesus has the last word over physical death (v. 40-42).

B. Jesus has the last word over spiritual death (v. 43).

Friday, November 30, 2007

The 'Boys Ride on a Thursday Night

Good news!!! The Dallas Cowboys beat-up the Green Bay Packers 37-27 tonight to go 11-1 for the season. Tony Romo is now four touch downs closer to leading the boys to the Super Bowl. How 'bout them Cowboys!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Speaking @ Traveler's Rest in Los Angeles

I am preaching my last revival meeting for 2007. I began three nights last night at the Traveler's Rest Baptist Church here in Los Angeles, where Terrell Taylor is the pastor. Please remember these final two nights in your prayers.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Surprised by Grace

2 Samuel 9

“O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell in your holy hill?” David begins Psalm 15 with these provocative questions. The body of the psalm answers these opening questions. It describes that character and conduct of the person who pleases God. The last line of Psalm 15:4 tells us that a godly person is one “who swears to his own hurt and does not change.” He keeps his word even when it costs him. She keeps her promises no matter what. The point is that godly people are promise keepers. David teaches that in Psalm 15. David exemplifies this in 2 Samuel 9, which is a part of what scholars call “THE SUCCESSION NARRATIVE OF DAVID.” It is a detailed account of Israel’s transition from Saul’s rule to the establishment of David’s reign. By 2 Samuel 9, David has accomplished great military victories and is enjoying peace, power, and prosperity. And during this period David lavishes kindness on a crippled man named Mephibosheth.

There are two seasons of life that test and reveal a person’s character: (1) seasons of adversity and (2) seasons of prosperity. And this season of success clearly demonstrates that David was man after God’s own heart. And I want us to look at David’s heart as it revealed in his kindness to Mephibosheth so that through it we might see God’s kindheartedness toward you and me. STEVE JONES comments: “Just as x-rays pass through the human body and reveal an accurate picture of the heart to the physician’s trained eye, there are some important ways in which the actions of David revealed the heart of God. We get some of those x-rays in the remarkable story of Mephibosheth.” 2 Samuel 9 is a historical event that functions as a parable to teach us that the grace of God is a wonderful surprise that’s too good not to be true.

In his book What’s So Amazing About Grace, PHIL YANCEY writes a friend who overheard an interesting conversation on a bus one day. A woman was reading. And the man sitting next to her asked what she was reading. She told him. It was M. SCOTT PECK’S bestseller, The Road Less Traveled. The man asked what it was about. Admitting she had just begun the book, she answered by reading him the chapter titles from the table of contents. When she mentioned the section on “Grace,” the man interrupted and asked what grace was about. She replied, “I have gotten that far yet.”

The same thing can be said about the Bible. No matter how much scripture you may read, study, or memorize; you have not gotten far into the Bible if you don’t know what is teaches about grace. Without oversimplifying the message of this expansive library of sixty books, I submit that the bible is simply about the glory of the grace of God. The grace of God is everywhere in the Bible. And it is not boring grace. It’s always a wonderful surprise of amazing grace. In Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, not only did God not immediately strike them dead (sparing mercy), but he also clothed them in coats of skin to cover the guilt-induced shame of the nakedness (surprising grace). And throughout scripture – all the way through the book of Revelation – God keeps surprising us with amazing grace. Of course, the biggest surprise of amazing grace is the virgin birth, perfect life, atoning death, and glorious resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. And David’s kindness to Mephibosheth illustrates the surprising grace of God that seeks us, welcomes us, and enriches us through Jesus Christ.


2 Samuel 8 describes David as being in a place in his life where he didn’t need anything. But in 2 Samuel 9, the one who didn’t need anything was searching for something: HE WAS SEEKING SOMEONE TO SHOW COVENANT KINDNESS TO. And verse 3 makes it clear that David understood that his kindness was a derivative of the kindness of God. In other words, David wanted to be kind in order to imitate God. Don’t miss that. God is a kindhearted sovereign who is seeking and searching for someone to be gracious to.

Because we can only see reality through the limited perspective of our personal experience, Christians often speak of our conversion to saving-faith in Christ in terms of us seeking God. But salvation actually happens the other way around. Romans 3:10-11 says, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; n one seeks for God.” Dig you get that? Unrighteous people don’t seek God. Every sinner does what the first sinners did. Adam and Eve tried to hide from God, not seek God. And every unconverted sinner is a convicted fugitive on the run from divine justice who is only saved because of the personal missionary work of almighty God. I once read about an entire police force that was mobilized to catch a car thief who had stolen an old, beat-up Volkswagen bug. They even broadcast radio bulletins to find this suspect. These great efforts were made to catch this thief because the owner of the car informed the authorities that there was a box of crackers in the front seat that he had laced with rat-poison to kill some rodents in his house. So the police desperately searched for the man, not to lock him up, but to save his life. And that’s how the grace of God operates. In Luke 19:10, Jesus says, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

GOD REACHES OUT TO US BECAUSE OF WHO HE IS. Nothing forced David to seek out Mephibosheth. And no one pressured him to do it. Something within David moved him to reach out and act in kindness. And it’s the same way with God. Mark it down. God does not owe you anything. More specifically, God does not owe you any good thing. Indeed, God owes each of us divine justice, holy wrath, and eternal punishment. But you don’t want God to give you what you deserve. And this is why grace is such a wonderful surprise. God has not treated us as our sins deserve. Instead, his reaches out to with sparing mercy, saving grace, and steadfast love. Ephesians 2:4-5 says: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.”

GOD REACHES OUT TO US FOR THE SAKE OF ANOTHER. The external reason why David sought out someone to show kindness to wasn’t because of Mephibosheth. It was because of Mephibosheth’s father, Jonathan. Jonathan and David were best friends. In fact, Jonathan loved David so much that he protected him from Saul’s wrath and supported his ascension to the throne of Israel, even though he was Saul’s son who was next in line to be king. In 1 Samuel chapters 18 and 20, David and Jonathan entered into covenant agreement with one another. David promised to be kind to Jonathan’s house after his promotion and Jonathan’s death. And in 2 Samuel 9, David now seeks out someone from the house of Jonathan to whom he can show the loyal love of God. David was gracious to Mephibosheth for the sake of another – JONATHAN. And God is gracious toward us for the sake of another – Jesus.

In the movie The Last Emperor, the young child who is the last emperor of China lives a magical life of luxury with a thousand eunuch servants at his command. “What happens when you do wrong?” his brother asks. “When I do wrong, someone else is punished,” the boy emperor replies. To demonstrate, he breaks a jar, and one of the servants is beaten. The Lord Jesus Christ reversed this pattern for our sakes: When the servants erred, the King was punished. Isaiah 55:4-6 says, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it this way: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

GOD REACHES OUT TO US IN SPITE OF US. Ziba was a servant of Saul who was administrating Saul’s estate. And when David summoned him and inquired about the surviving members of Saul and Jonathan’s family, Ziba singled out Mephibosheth – even though there were others he could have mentioned. Interestingly, he does not mention Mephibosheth by name. In verse 3, Ziba introduced Mephibosheth by his condition: “he was crippled in his feet.” When the news of the death of Saul and Jonathan reached the royal family, they fled. 2 Samuel 4:4 tells us that Mephibosheth was just five-years-old at the time. And in the haste to flee, his nurse dropped him, leaving his feet permanently crippled. It seems that Ziba reports Mephibosheth’s condition to say to David that he was not worth David’s time - he could neither help nor hurt the king.

Undeterred by Ziba’s unflattering description of Mephibosheth, David replied, “Where is he?” Ziba then reports that Mephibosheth was hiding out in the home of benefactors who lived in Lo-debar. The name “LO-DEBAR” means “no pasture.” We do not know much about Lo-debar. But scholars agree that its name was meant to indicate that it was a barren, unfruitful, terrible place. Mephibosheth was a crippled man from a fallen dynasty living in a horrible environment. Yet David reached out to him in kindness. Verse 5 says, “Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” That’s grace. It’s what grace does for us. The grace of God reaches out to us in spite of us. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”


No doubt, David’s kindness came as a complete surprise to Mephibosheth. When the king’s soldiers knocked at his door and carried him to Jerusalem, he must have seen his whole life flash before his eyes. Mephibosheth knew how it went. When a new king arose, he would put to death the family of the previous dynasty so there would be no revolts or rebellions later. So Mephibosheth must have entered David’s presence like a cornered enemy. But David embraced him like a long, lost friend. And David’s warm welcome of Mephibosheth teaches us two important things about grace.

GRACE MEANS THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE AFRAID OF GOD’S WRATH. Can you imagine the sense of terror that must have consumed Mephibosheth when he met the king? He feared David. He was scared of being brutally tortured and executed. He was afraid because there was absolutely nothing he could do about whatever was about to happen to him. Imagine his surprise when King David says to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness…” David’s kindness removed Mephibosheth’s fear. And God’s grace does the same for us. So we can confidently sing Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

One day, President Thomas Jefferson was riding horseback cross-country when he and his companions came to a swollen river. A wayfarer stood at the banks as several of the party passed by. But when President Jefferson approached, he hailed him, asking if the president would carry him across the river on his horse. Once on the other side, on the group asked the wayfarer why he selected the president to ask this favor of. “The president,” said the man with surprise. “I didn’t know he was the president. All I know is that on some of the faces is written the answer ‘no’ and on some faces is written the answer ‘yes.’ His was a ‘yes’ face.”

That’s a good definition of grace. Grace is the smiling face of God. Grace communicates God’s acceptance, approval, and affirmation. God’s grace means that we have to fear the judgment, wrath, and condemnation of God. In John 10:28-30, Jesus says: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father’ are one.” Praise God that you don’t have to be afraid of death, hell, and the grave


GRACE MEANS THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE AFRAID OF YOUR WEAKNESS. David promised to show kindness to Mephibosheth. David vowed to restore Saul’s estate to Mephibosheth. And David assured Mephibosheth that he had a permanent place as the royal table. Naturally, these royal favors overwhelmed Mephibosheth. And he moved from being surprised by grace to becoming skeptical toward grace. Verse 8 says, “And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?’” One of the most degrading things you could call a person in David’s day was a “dog.” And for a person to call himself a dog would be a great act of self-deprecation that expressed humble submission before a superior authority. But note that Mephibosheth does not just call himself a dog. He calls himself a “dead dog.” That’s how Mephibosheth saw himself. Less than nothing. Worse that the worst. Lower than rock bottom. But that’s not how David saw Mephibosheth. And that’s not how God sees you.

There is a sociological concept that is called “the theory of the looking-glass self.” The idea is that we have a way of seeing ourselves through the eyes of other people – so much so that we incorporate their views of us into our own self-concept. This is why so many of us have such a perverted view of life. We only see ourselves through the lens of other people’s opinions – parents, siblings, lovers, teachers, the media, church folks, etc. But grace leads us to look at ourselves through the mirror of God’s amazing grace. And there, we don’t have to be afraid of what we see. Faith is God’s grace is simply about accepting God’s acceptance of you. I know you are crippled. And I know that you are may be in Lo-debar. But I have good news for you. God loves you. There is nothing that can make God love you more. And there is nothing that can make God love you less. In Romans 8:38-39, Paul says, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


Verses 6-8 record David’s conversation with Mephibosheth. Then verses 9-11 record David’s conversation with Ziba about Mephibosheth: “Then the king called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall always eat at my table.’ Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, ‘According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do.’ So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons.” These verses illustrate three ways in which the grace of God lifts up the fallen.

GOD’S GRACE GIVES UNDESERVED RICHES. That’s what David did for Mephibosheth. He restored to him all the land of Saul and Jonathan. David didn’t have to do that to keep his promise to Jonathan. He could have just put Mephibosheth on a kind of royal “welfare system” and kept Saul’s estate for himself. But David gave it all to Mephibosheth. And it was apparently so great that verse 10 says it would take Ziba’s fifteen sons and twenty servants to care for all that land. With one decree of sovereign grace, Mephibosheth went from living in someone else’s house in Lo-debar to owning his own royal estate. This is what grace does. God’s grace enriches us. Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” 2 Corinthians 8:9 says: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”

GOD’S GRACE GIVES UNCONDITIONAL FAVOR. Four times in this chapter – verses 7, 10, 11, and 13 – we are told that David gave Mephibosheth a permanent place at his royal table. This gracious act was definitely not a subtle form of house arrest to keep an eye on Mephibosheth. And it was not a royal handout to meet his physical need for food. David had already given Mephibosheth so much land that it would take more some thirty-five people to care for it. So this was not about food. It was about favor. Verse 11 says that Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons. In a real sense, David adopted Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth was not just a guest at the royal table. He was a member of the royal family. Verse 13 says, “So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.” Mephibosheth remained crippled. But his crippled feet were hidden under the king’s table. That’s what grace does. It covers us. Romans 5:20 says, “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, graced abounded all the more.”

GOD’S GRACE GIVES UNENDING SECURITY. 2 Samuel 21:1-7 illustrates David’s ongoing protection of Mephibosheth. Saul had waged an unjust war against Gibeonites. But the punishment for Saul’s sin didn’t fall on Israel until David’s reign. A three-year famine struck the land. And when David prayed about it, God told him about Saul’s sin. So David went to the Gibeonites to make restitution. And the Gibeonites demanded that David hand over seven of Saul’s sons that they may hang them. And David agreed. But 2 Samuel 21:7 says that David would not give them Mephibosheth.

A certain man sought to adopt a troubled teenager. As the process of adoption was going on, the young girl did a terrible thing to break the man’s heart. And all of his family and friends warned him that he should immediately end the adoption process. “After all,” they argued, “she’s not really your daughter.” But the man resolutely replied, “I know. But I told her she was. And I am not going to change my mind.” This is how the grace of God treats us. Lamentations 3:22-23 says: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

How should you respond to grace and goodness of God? Let me answer by telling you about another episode from Mephibosheth’s life. It’s recorded in 2 Samuel 19:24-30. David’s kingdom was threatened by a political and military revolt led by his own son, Absalom. And during this conflict, David became a refugee in exile from his beloved city of Jerusalem. Ultimately, David prevailed. Absalom was defeated and killed in battle. And David finally returned to Jerusalem. Upon his arrival, he had to settle some issues with several people. One of them was Mephibosheth. When David fled Jerusalem, Mephibosheth remained behind. Ziba told David that Mephibosheth stayed behind because he had turned against the king and sided with the enemy. But when David returned to Jerusalem, he was met by Mephibosheth who had not bathed or shaven since David’s departure. And in this apparent state of mourning, Mephibosheth gave his side of the story. Ziba left him. And being crippled, he had no other means of fleeing. David, not knowing whose story to believe, decided to split Saul and Jonathan’s estate evenly between Ziba and Mephibosheth. But in 2 Samuel 19:30, Mephibosheth says, “Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely home.” Did you get that? We ought to be willing to give our all back to the Lord who has given so much to us.



Friday, November 23, 2007

Other Important Thanksgiving News

The Dallas Cowboys beat down the New York Jets 34-3 yesterday to go to 10-1 for the season. How 'bout them Cowboys!!!

Happy Thanksgiving

It is the end of a long, good day. I am winding down now, preparing for bed. At this point, it’s been more than twenty-four hours since I have slept. I pulled an all-nighter last night to finish my message for our Thanksgiving Day service this morning. My message was on the story of Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9. I was going to call it, “Surprised by Grace.”

I did not get to preach my message this morning. Our Thanksgiving service is the one service of the year our congregation has open-floor testimonies. The past several years, I have been careful to limit how much time we spend on this part of the service, because I have had guest preachers. But I was not as attentive to the time today. Plus, there are members who have had to trust God through many trials this year. And I thought it would be best to give them time to testify. Consequently, our testimony period went for more than forty-five minutes – essentially taking all of my preaching time. I could have either rushed through the message or I could have plodded through and kept them much longer than normal. I decided to turn the service into a prayer meeting, saving Mephibosheth for Sunday morning – when I can preach it all!

Crystal cooked. Family came by. And we spent a slow, leisurely afternoon enjoying one another’s company. We ate. We talked. We watched some television. We told old stories. We laughed a lot. We thanked God for his goodness. Our guests are gone now. We have finished cleaning up – under compulsion from Crystal’s threats! And it will not be long before we are sleep. But before I turned in, I just wanted to say “Happy Thanksgiving,” even though the day has come to an end. The holiday is over. But the occasion has not change. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:18, ESV)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Make haste slowly."

I listened to a lecture from the late Dr. James Montgomery Boice this morning. It was the first part of a series of messages he delivered at a pastor's conference hosted by John Piper's Desiring God Ministries in February, 1991. Dr. Boice, a great Bible expositor and commentator, led the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia for more than thirty years. I encourage my pastoral colleagues to go to to find and listen to this great man of God lecture on biblical preaching.

At the end of the lecture, Dr. Boice fielded questions from the floor. A young man asked him what to do as he led a church that was not really committed to doctrinally-sound, gospel-saturated, Christ-centered preaching. Dr. Boice simply told the young man to "make haste slowly." This is great advice. The problem with too many of us young pastors is that we aim too low and try to get there too fast. Brothers, it takes time - not months, years... maybe decades - to build a healthy church. Conversely, it doesn't take long at all to build a prominent name, a large crowd, or a new building. All over the country men (and women) are doing that quickly and successfully. The question is whether these are monuments to strong and gifted personalities or are these places where the saints are growing up to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13).

If a man's goal is to just be the "hottest church in town" (whatever that is), than the centrality and primacy of biblical, Christ-exalting preaching and teaching will not be important. Just packing them in, making them shout, and getting their money will suffice. But nurturing a healthy church that wins more Christians and develops better Christians to the glory of God requires faithful preaching - in season and out of season - that rebukes, reproves, and corrects with all longsuffering and teaching (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Family on the way to Worship

Crystal and the kids (including the one in the "oven") this morning as we were leaving for church

Preaching @ Metropolitan in Altadena

I preached today for Pastor Tyrone Skinner at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Altadena. It was their "Men's Day" service. I am not often out of my own pulpit on Sunday mornings. But Pastor Skinner is one of the men I am willing to make an exception for. Pastor Skinner is a godly, kind, and humble leader. And the Lord is blessing him to do a great work in the Altadena/Pasadena area. I have preached for him on several occasions throughout the years - from church anniversaries, to pastoral anniversaries, to church revivals. And the eagerness of the congregation to hear the preaching of God's word is always encouraging. Today was no different. Please remember this pastor and congregation in your prayers.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I'm not tired yet... but almost.

I have been on the go since my last post.

Last week, I was in revival at New Pleasant Hill in Los Angeles - Pastor Melvin Hill. And it’s always harder to preach a meeting at home. If I am away, I can order my day for preaching. But when I am home, I almost have to get ready to preach around the regular stuff that I have to do throughout the day.

I preached Wednesday and Thursday nights. But Friday afternoon, Crystal called me at my office and told me to come home. She was not feeling well. We called our doctor and he sent us to the hospital. And that’s where we were for most of the night. Praise God Crystal is feeling better. And our baby is doing just fine. (By the way, we are at five months. And… it’s a girl!!! Lord, help.) I really appreciate Dr. Hill’s concern and understanding that I was not able to be with him Friday night. I hear the closing night went well anyway. God is faithful.

Sunday, I continued our series on the power of Jesus. I preached on the woman with the issue of blood from Mark 5:25-34 – “Trusting Jesus When All Is Spent.” Later that afternoon, I preached for my brother-in-law, a son of MSMBC, who was celebrating his fifth pastoral anniversary at the First Goodwill Baptist Church.

Monday night, I preached for Dr. William Thurmond at the Park Windsor Baptist Church. I haven’t preached there since I was about sixteen-years-old. It was good to be with them again. And it was really cool that so many people remembered me from that “Youth Day” almost twenty years ago.

Tuesday, I did nothing but hang out with Crystal. She was feeling well enough to get out. So I spent time with her. I missed being at my Tuesday night service. But I really needed some rest and the opportunity to spend some unrushed time with Crystal and the kids.

I am now in Monterey Bay, California. I am preaching their citywide revival through Friday night. The Lord blessed the opening night. And I am looking forward to the next two nights. This is my last trip away from home to preach for the year. It has been a good year. But it has wiped me out. I don’t think I have ever preached this much away from home. Ever. Indeed, I am grateful for every opportunity. But I am praying that the Lord will help me to be better at saying “no” this coming year. Last night, the choir sung, “I’ve been running for Jesus a long time. I’m not tired yet.” I couldn’t stop smiling the whole song. On one hand, I perfectly understand what the song means. And I am determined to stay in the race. But at the same time, I would have loved to still been in the bed! Praise God for his strengthening grace.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Remembering November 5, 1990

Here is a note I wrote in our November church newsletter about my pastoral anniversary.

It was a Monday night. It was a church business meeting. It was a vote to decide my father’s successor. These were all good reasons for me go to bed early, as I had planned. But I decided to go to the meeting anyway. I had even determined the person I was going to vote for that night. Several hours later, I left the meeting as the newly elected pastor of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church. I was only 17-years-old. I was in the senior year of high school. I was absolutely clueless about what the next seventeen years of my life would bring. But here I am, by the grace of God.

At this point, I have served as pastor of MSMBC for more than half of my life. This is literally the only job I have ever had! And I praise the Lord for it. After my salvation and my family, I am most grateful to God for giving me the privilege of serving this wonderful congregation. If God wills, we will celebrate together these seventeen years God has blessed us to serve him together as pastor and people next month (12/7 & 9).

I pray that the Lord will bless this time of celebration to strengthen and encourage us for the coming days of ministry. May the Lord grant us the most fruitful season of ministry this congregation to the glory of God. And continue to pray that God will make me into the man that I need to be to lead this congregation both to and at its next season of growth and fruitfulness.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Speaking @ New Pleasant Hill in Los Angeles

This evening, I will begin a three-night meeting (Wed.-Fri.) at the New Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Los Angeles, where Dr. Melvin Hill is the pastor. Please join me in pray for power for preaching, the salvation of souls, and the building up of God’s people.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Speaking @ the Paradise State Convention

I am in Tucson, Arizona. I am here to speak tonight for the Progressive Missionary Baptist State Convention Fall Session and Revival. Pastor Ricky B. Harvey is the president of this group. And his congregation, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, is hosting the services. Pray for me.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Difference Jesus Makes

First, an update. Joshua scored a TKO over me in the fifth round! I spent the first half of this year getting to preach through the book of Joshua. Honestly, I have never had so much trouble getting out of the starting gate with a book like I did with this one. I spent the past several months trying to get through Joshua. I'd get a message ready. Then It would take me several weeks to get to the next one. Ultimately, I never made it to chapter 5. I don’t know what went wrong. Honestly. I was just not able to concentrate enough to work through the passages and prepare them to preach. And I was getting so discouraged, that it was getting hard for me to study. So I through in the towel - before we were able to see the walls of Jericho fall down flat of see the sun stand still for Joshua. God willing, I will challenge Joshua to a rematch some at some point down the road.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been preaching a short series on the miracles of Jesus recorded in Mark 4-5. I’m calling it “The Difference Jesus Makes.” On the last Sunday in October, I preached the Mark 4:35-41 (the power of Jesus over the natural elements) – “Trusting Jesus in a Storm.” And yesterday I preached on Mark 5:1-20 (the power of Jesus of demonic forces) – “Trusting Jesus to Set Your Free.” I plan is preach this coming Sunday on Mark 5:25-34 (the power of Jesus over “incurable” diseases) – “Trusting Jesus When all is Spent.”

I have really needed these message. I just feel myself at a place where my own faith needs to be reminded that there is nothing too hard for the Lord. Jesus. And I trust that the messages have also been a blessing to the members of MSMBC.

Please remember my personal study time and sermon preparation in your prayers.

Friday, November 02, 2007

What Was I Thinking?

Here is the book review I wrote about a month ago for our church newletter.

Steve Brown introduces his book What Was I Thinking? with an illustration: “One Time Mark Twain’s wife got furious with him and did something she rarely, if ever, did. She started cursing. Twain started laughing, and that, of course, made her even angrier. She asked him what he thought was so funny. ‘My dear,’ he said through gales of laughter, ‘you know the words, but you don’t know the tune!’” This humorous story is Brown’s explanation of where he is in his walk with Christ and what he seeks to accomplish in Thinking?.

Steve Brown is a former pastor, a seminary professor, a prolific author, a radio broadcaster, and a much in-demand speaker – for starters. But it seems that Brown’s biggest concern in What Was I Thinking? is the fact that he is also religious, very religious. To be clear, Brown is orthodox, evangelical, and Reformed. In essence, he believes the Bible is true – all of it. Yet, he is striving to shake off the religiosity he contracted as he reached his settled, biblical convictions. He is trying to take off the shackles of religion to fully enjoy and experience the scandalous grace of God. And What Was I
Thinking? describes his journey and invites the reader along for the ride.

Actually, this “anti-religion spirit” is the tone and goal of most of Brown’s books. He is constantly seeking to get past the thick fog of religious error, ritual, and tradition in order to see God the Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ more clearly. And he may be at his best here in Thinking?. Brown writes: “Theology (no matter how orthodox), a belief statement (no matter how biblical), and propositions (no matter how exact and correct) are all useless if they don’t lead us to the reality which is God and to the astonishment that ought to be a regular occurrence in the believer’s life” (p. 2). I fully agree with this statement. But it’s more powerful for me to read it from someone who is absolutely and unwaveringly committed to theology, belief statements, and propositions.

In the twelve chapters of Thinking?, Brown discusses what he has been learning about subjects that he thought he fully knew. And these are pretty major subjects – God, Jesus, The Bible, spiritual warfare, and obedience to God, for instance. Brown tackles the subjects by, first of all, admitting that he really thought he already knew everything he needed to know about these subjects. Then he moves to explain what he has been learning about these subjects since he decided to learn the tune, not just the words. The chapter titles are headlines of Brown’s spiritual discoveries:

• God is a lot bigger than I though he was.
• Jesus is a lot more radical than I thought he was.
• People are a lot worse than I thought they were.
• People are a lot better than I thought they were.
• Self-righteousness is a lot more dangerous than I thought it was.

Steve Brown’s What Was I Thinking? is sound, provocative, and controversial. And I love it. And I happily recommend it as our September book-of-the-month. Read it. Share it. Share it with believers and unbelievers. And pray that the Lord Jesus would transform us from being people who just know the words to people who know the tune. And dance!

2007 Church Council Retreat

This weekend, the pastoral leaders and staff of MSMBC are together in downtown Los Angeles for our annual retreat. This is when we do the heavy lifting for our plans for the upcoming year. This is about this sixth year in a row we have met together in this way. And this is about the fourth year we have met at this hotel.

We are finishing up dinner now. And we will take on work for a couple of more hours, before we quit for the night. We will start again early in the morning, and go through tomorrow afternoon.

Please pray for us as we pray and plan together. And pray for our time of fellowship together, that the Lord would draw us closer together as brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray for our time-management. We are a rowdy bunch, and can easily get distracted to chase down... whatever. And pray for my strength.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Recent pictures of my family

Here are some recent pictures of my family.

Crystal & Natalie

Crystal, H.B. (III), Natalie, & me

H.B., Natalie, and my mother, Ellen Charles

Speaking @ the Louisville Citywide Revival

I am in Louisville preaching the citywide revival through Wednesday night. Dr. Eric A. Johnson is the president of the citywide revival. And my friend, Dr. Derrick Miles, is the vice-president. The services are being held each evening at the Hill Street Baptist Church, where the Rev. Gregory Smith is the pastor. Please remember me and this meeting in your prayers.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Speaking @ Greater St. John in Oakland

I am in Oakland. In the morning, I will be heading home from preaching at the Greater St. John Baptist Church here, where Gregory Payton is the pastor. Pastor Payton has been hosting St. John's "Empowering the City with a Word" conference, which started this past Sunday.There has been a "lecturer" and speaker each night. Clinton McFarland from Columbus (Miss), Brian Hunter from Berkeley, Melvin Wade from Los Angeles, and James Dixon from Houston have spoken this week. Tonight was the closing night. I gave the opening message. And Pastor Dennis Jones of the Gethsemane Baptist Church in Houston gave the closing message.

The enthusiasm and energy of the congregation would have made you think that tonight was the closing night, not the opening night. The service began at 7 PM and didn't let out to about 10:30. And I didn't see anyone leave before it was over. It was a remarkable worship service and a wonderful setting in which to preach. It was obvious the congregation came to church to hear the word of God proclaimed. And, boy, did Dennis Jones preach. I have preached with him and have heard him on a few occasions now. But I have never heard him quite like this. He was in a zone and on target tonight. And God used him in a great may to minister to the congregation.

Please pray that much fruit will come from this meeting. And pray that the Lord will continue to bless and use the ministry of Pastor Payton and the Greater St. John Church.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Praying for California Fire Victims

Please join us this week as we pray for those who have suffered loss in the multiple wildfires that have struck various parts of California this week.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A long day, followed by a short day.

Yesterday was a long, blessed day.

I preached both of our morning services, and also led my small-group during the Sunday School hour. Then I had to preach two more times in the afternoon. At 3 pm, I preached the 14th pastoral anniversary for my longtime friend Reginald Payne at the Full Gospel Baptist Church. Reginald and I started preaching together at Mt. Sinai. And before he was called to serve his church, Reginald was my primary pastoral assistant. I am very proud of him and grateful to God for our friendship and the wonderful way the Lord is using this loving shepherd and faithful preacher.

Then, at 6 pm, I preached the opening night of a revival meeting hosted by Pastor Michael Metters and the Faithway Baptist Church. It is a six-night meeting that will feature preaching from well-respected pastors in the Los Angeles church community - R.A. Williams, Manual Scott, Jr., and Richard Sanders, among others. It was a joy and a privilege to preach the opening message of this meeting. This was maybe my fourth time speaking at Faithway, even though the last time was several years ago.

The Lord was gracious to give me strength for the whole day. And many MSMBC members went churchin' with me the whole day, which was really encouraging. I gave myself a chance to catch up with myself by hanging out with Crystal today. Of course, though, it wasn't enough time - time always flies on my day off! In the morning, it's back to work - Ephesians 4:4-6 is my assignment for tomorrow night.

Churchin' in Omaha

Last week, as I preached for Pastor Reginald Terry and the Antioch Baptist Church, I was also able to attend several other services. Our services started at 6 pm and was over before 7:30. So the last two nights, we were able to attend several special events that were taking place across town.

On Thursday, I was able to attend the closing night of Omaha's Citywide Revival. Dr. Frederick D. Sampson, from Houston, was the speaker. And it was fantastic. Dr. Sampson is a preaching legend. And it was great to get to here him for the first time.

On Friday, we attended the 2nd anniversary service for Dr. Selwyn Bachus at the Salem Baptist Church. Pastor K. Edwin Bryant from Dayton was the guest speaker. I met Pastor Bryant this past summer. And I was really looking forward to hearing him And...

Interestingly, both of these pastors preached from Genesis 22, the story of Abraham going to sacrifice Isaac. They had two different approaches to the text, which reminded me that preaching really is communication of divine truth through (different) human personalities.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Speaking @ Antioch in Omaha

I have returned to the scene of the crime (Don't ask. I will not explain. But if you get do it... pretty funny, huh?).

I am in Omaha to preach for Pastor Reginald Terry at the Antioch Baptist Church. And I am having a blast. I really felt at home preaching to Antioch last night. Reginald Terry is an outstanding preacher and Bible teacher. And it's always good to be in a setting where the preaching of the word of God is the center-piece of the worship service - not an appendix added after a hundred non-essential things take place.

I am also enjoying the time I have spent with Pastor Terry. He bleeds preaching. He has a pastor's heart. And he has a sharp mind. And our conversations about pastoral ministry and biblical preaching have been stimulating. Even when we disagree, the conversations are still engaging and enjoyable. I have a lot of respect for Pastor Terry and find myself refreshed by this trip, which is a pleasant surprise.

Please remember the remainder of this meeting in your prayers.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

WHW 2008 in Los Angeles

About 1,000 pastors, preachers and Bible teachers had converged on Los Angeles this week for the annual expository preaching conference sponsored by WHW Ministries. This group is led by Dr. R.A. Williams who serves the McCoy Memorial Baptist Church in Los Angeles and Dr. George Waddles who pastors in Chicago (They are the two "W" in the group's name, the "H" is for Pastor Larry Harris who passed away several years ago). The conference focuses, primarily, on word studies, grammar, context, and culture in the study of scripture. There are also other classes on various theological and pastoral subjects. And, of course, there is preaching. Pastors Melvin Wade, Jonny Baylor, Frank Ray, A. Louis Patterson, and R.A. Williams, among others, were scheduled to preach this year.

Please remember this conference and its ongoing ministry in your prayers. Sure, there are a lot of conferences these days being held around the country. Too many, if you ask me (but we'll save that rant for another post). But there really is no conference doing what WHW seeks to do. It has a great opportunity to equip and encourage a generation of African-American pastors to explain what scripture means by what it says. May the Lord bless their efforts.

Speaking @ Oakland Avenue

I am in Detroit preaching for Pastor Larry Walker and the Oakland Avenue Baptist Church. This is the third year I have done this meeting, so I think I know what to expect from them and they know what to expect from me. That always makes preaching a little bit easier. Again, for the third year, I am partnered with Dr. William Burwell, who lives and serves in Palm Springs California. Dr. B. is an itinerant preacher and Bible teacher, who travels the country speaking at churches and conferences. So each night Oakland Avenue takes Dr. B.'s best shot, then they take my best shot. I have never heard Pastor Walker preach. But the Lord has certainly used him to develop a congregation that appreciates the word of God. We got off to a good start last night, and have two more nights to go. Please remember this meeting in your prayers.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Still Feasting on the Preaching of Ray Pritchard

We were blessed to have a special day of worship at Mt. Sinai yesterday. First of all, we one first Sundays, we celebrate the Lord's Table together, which is always a special time in the life of our congregation. Likewise, our fall semester of small-groups began on yesterday. But what really made the day so special was the presence of Dr. Ray Pritchard, president of Keep Believing Ministries, who preached in both of our morning services.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Dr. Pritchard spent Saturday morning with us, giving practical advice for faithful and effective preaching. But, come on, how many practioners are there out there who cannot do what the teach?!?! Ray Pritchard is not one of them. He is a clear and compelling preacher. And it was a joy to sit under his preaching in worship. And the message was very pastoral, touching on an often-overlooked but important subject: when believers doubt. Preaching from the story of John the Baptist in Matthew 11:1-6, the Lord used Pastor Pritchard to richly bless our congregation yesterday. And his kind comments about our church were so encouraging to us. And his kindness to preach and then patiently sign copies of his various books for our members was just another expression of his humility and big heart. Praise God for Ray Pritchard! May the Lord enlarge the platform of his spiritual influence. And may his tribe increase.

By the way, I have recently switched from a PC to a Mac. And I have not really figured how to put links onto my blog yet. So let me just give you Dr. Pritchard's web address: There should be a couple of recent posts there about his trip to MSMBC, along with Pritchard's weblog and sermon manuscripts. You can also find his various books - he has written almost 30 in the past 13 years or so - on the sight.

Go, H.B. It's your birthday!!!

Today is H.B. Charles III's 8th birthday. Happy birthday, son!!!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Ray Pritchard @ MSMBMC

Dr. Ray Pritchard, president and featured speaker of Keep Believing Ministries, is our guest at Mt. Sinai this weekend. This morning, Dr. Pritchard, led a conference in which he gave us practical tips for regular biblical preaching. There were only a few people present – MSMBC associate pastors and one local pastor. And I was a little disappointed that more brothers didn’t take advantage of this opportunity to meet Dr. Pritchard. But I understand how busy pastors are – especially on Saturdays! And so we had a small, intimate setting in which we were able to learn from Dr. Pritchard and interact with him. And it was a great experience. Personally, I was greatly helped, challenged, and encouraged by the session. And I hope and pray that the Lord will help me to implement the key things I need to learn in order to become a better preacher.

If the Lord spares us, Dr. Pritchard will preach our two morning services tomorrow. And I look forward to a rich time of worship and the opportunity to sit under Dr. Pritchard’s preaching. I was introduced to Dr. Pritchard through his writings. I found out this weekend that Dr. Pritchard has written some 29 books over the past 13 or so years. And virtually all of his writing has developed from his preaching ministry. Wow! Dr. Pritchard served the Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois, for 17 years. And it was during his ministry there that I was able to both read his sermon manuscripts and listen to archived audio/video messages that were posted on the Calvary Memorial website. I also began reading Pritchard’s weblog during this time. And these ministries had a profound effect on me. Most obviously, I started a blog and started posting my sermons online by the influence of Pritchard’s example. So, in many ways, Pritchard has mentored me from afar. And it has been a joy to actually meet him. And I look forward to worshiping with him at MSMBC in the morning.

Please remember our Sunday services in your prayers. And please remember Dr. Ray Pritchard’s family and ministry in your prayers. I believe that Ray Pritchard is one of the great, important preaching voices of our day. And I pray that the Lord will further Pritchard’s influence and fruitfulness in the coming years – to the glory of God.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Speaking @ the Cleveland Citywide Revival

I am in Cleveland, preaching the citywide revival sponsored by the local Baptist Minister's Conference. Pastor Claudie Williams is the president of this group. Rev. George Parks is the chairman of the revival. And Pastor Charles Matthews is the host, as the The services are being held at - get this - Mt. Sinai Baptist Church. Cool.

I don't really know anyone hear. I was invited by Pastor Parks, whom I met while preaching in Northern California. I know Pastor Houston here. And Pastor Veal and I, who I met for the first time this week, have numerous mutual friends. But in spite of the fact that I don't know many people here, everyone has been very warm and welcoming to me.

The first night, Monday, was kind of slow, as it stormed here pretty heavily. But the meeting picked up steam last night. I have two nights to go - Wednesday and Thursday. Please remember this meeting in your prayers.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Speaking @ Lilydale in Chicago

I spent this past weekend in Chicago with my friend, Romell Williams, who was celebrating his third pastoral anniversary at the Lilydale Progressive M.B.C. I had the privilege of preaching during Romell’s installation celebration. And I have been with him each year during his anniversary celebration, preaching in his two morning services.

I met Romell when he was the youth pastor of a large church in suburban Chicago. A mutual friend hooked us up, commending Romell to me as one of the best young preachers in the country. And upon meeting him and hearing him, he backed that up. Romell bleeds preaching. It’s just in his system. And over the past several years, his keen preaching mind has been married to his sharp pastoral vision. And the Lord is using him to do a great work at the Lyllydale Church.

The worship services were held at a local high school gym, as the Lyllydale Church building is undergoing an extensive renovation of its main auditorium. I had the opportunity to see the designs and graphics for the renovated building. And they are absolutely beautiful. And I am greatly encouraged by sense of faith, prayerfulness and unity with which this pastor and congregation are undertaking this massive project. Please remember Romell and the Lillydale church in your prayers over the coming weeks as this project is completed.

As the afternoon service for Romell was concluding, I rushed out heading for the New Covenant M.B.C. Dr. Steven J. Thurston, who is also the president of the National Baptist Convenion of America, found out I was in town and invited me over to preach his live Sunday evening broadcast. By the time I arrived at New Covenant, it was time to preach. I was totally spent, and I felt the physical strain as I was preaching. But the Lord gave me strength to get through the message. I was just grateful to be there. Dr. Thurston has been very kind to me over the years. And this invitation was just another example of his big-heartedness.

Dr. Clay Evans, retired pastor of the Fellowship Baptist Church and the “Godfather” of Chicago Baptist preachers, was in attendance at New Covenant. I had not seen him in some time. And it was good to be with him in worship and to hear him sing, even though he only teased us with a verse or two. Dr. Evans and my father were friends. And I praise God that his friendship with my father has resulted in his kindness to me.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lessons from a Self-Conscious Preacher

Last night, I continued our study of the book of Ephesians. We are at Ephesians 3:1-13, which is a rather difficult text. My original tension was to divine the text into two parts. There are, indeed, two themes in the text: (1) the ministry of Paul and (2) the mystery of the gospel. But it seems to me that these two themes are interwoven throughout the entire passage. So I was really struggling with how to divide it. I finally decided not to. And my congregation patiently endured my exposition of all thirteen verses. It's a great, difficult, challenging text. And I know I only stratched the surface of it. But it was a rich study for me. And I trust the congregation was helped.

By the way, I am really enjoying getting back to preaching on Tuesday nights. I am slowing getting the hang of going from Sunday's message to Tuesday's message. And I am really being blessed by studying Ephesians. I pray that the Lord's will continue to bless our times together on Tuesday nights.

Here is the skeleton from last night's message. I know the outline is long and extensive. I hope the message was not as laborious as this outline seems to be!

TITLE: Lessons from a Self-Conscious Preacher

TEXT: Ephesians 3:1-13

THEME: Understanding the ministry of the mystery of the gospel

POINT: Faithful ministers are careful about how the Lord sees them, how others seem them, and how they see themselves.


I. Paul was a prisoner for Christ Jesus (3:1, 13)
A. Notice how Paul viewed his situation (v. 1)
B. Notice how Paul wanted the church to view his situation (v. 13)
II. Paul was a steward of God’s grace (3:2-6)
A. The source of the mystery (vv. 2-3)
1. Grace (v. 2)
2. Revelation (v. 3)
B. The secrecy of the mystery (vv. 4-5)
1. It was concealed in the Old Testament
2. It is revealed in the New Testament
C. The statement of the mystery (v. 6)
1. We are fellow together in Christ.
2. We are members together in Christ.
3. We are partakers together in Christ.
III. Paul was a minister of the gospel (3:7-13)
A. The means of gospel ministry (v. 7)
B. The attitude of gospel ministry (v. 8a)
C. The focus of gospel ministry (vv. 8b-9)
1. We are to point people to Christ (v. 8b)
2. We are to point people to the church (v. 9)
D. The goal of gospel ministry (vv. 10-11)
1. The church is the place where the wisdom of God is displayed (v.10).
2. The church is the place where the purpose of God is accomplished (v. 11)
E. The benefit of gospel ministry (v. 12)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Happy 65th Birthday MSMBC

Yesterday, we celebrated 65 years of God's faithfulness in and through the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church. Our guest speaker was Paul Felix, who is a professor at The Master's Seminary and the president of the Los Angeles Bible Training School. Prof. Felix delivered a challenging and powerful message from 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15, calling on us to heed the six exhortations in those two verses, that we might be a "healing community." Stellar preaching! He also led a mass study during our Sunday School hour, calling on us to make a new/deeper commitment to personal Bible Study. I was personally helped, convicted, and devastaded by the messages. I praise God for Prof. Felix and his commitment to the Lord Jesus and the word of God. It was truly a great day!

Following is the little article I wrote for our bulletin this past weekend:

Today, we celebrate the sixty-five years of God’s faithfulness in, to, and through the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church. Over six decades, with only three pastors, the Lord has used this local congregation as a sign, a herald, and a foretaste of his present but not-yet kingdom. And many lives have been changed to the glory of God. It’s amazing to me. Just this year alone, as I have ministered across the city and around the country, I keep meeting people whose lives have been dramatically impacted by Christ through the witness and ministry of Mt. Sinai. Of course, many people fondly remember the ministry of my father and predecessor, H.B. Charles, Sr. But I also hear the names of so many other members of this congregation – deacons, worship leaders, Sunday School teachers, and others – who have been used by God to touch lives. To God be the glory!

In Joshua 4, the Lord commanded Joshua to erect a stone memorial at Gilgal, so that the present and future generations would not forget how the mighty hand of God brought the children of Israel over the Jordan River and into the promised land of Canaan. This reminds us that it is important to remember the times, ways, and people God has used to bring us to where we are. So let us stop today and praise God together for God unwavering and continued faithfulness to MSMBC. We praise God alone because, although he has used different people to plant and water the seed, God alone has given the increase.

But let us not just look back today; look around. God is not through with us yet. Most of those who have played such a pitivol role in the development of this congregation have moved off the scene. But the Lord has raised up new models, ministers, and messengers to carry on the witness of the church. And it is a great joy for me to have the opportunity to serve the Lord Jesus in and among the wonderful congregation of saints at Mt. Sinai. Indeed, we have a long way to go in our process to maturity. Be I am convinced we are going in the right direction. We are a church that is committed to winning more Christians and developing better Christians to the glory of God. Prayer and the ministry of the word are our primary tools. And a very real and growing bond of peace and love is evident among us. So let’s look forward with faith and hope. In the days and years to come, as leaders and locations may change, may our mission remain the same: changed lives! Together, let’s claim new territory for the kingdom of God with confidence that the one who has begun a good work in us will complete it on the day of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Who need the church, anyway?

This past Tuesday night, I continued our study of Ephesians in our midweek service. I preached the closing paragraph of Ephesians 2, verses 19-22. It is about the nature and the importance of the church. I was most concerned about presenting the text clearly. And I did not spend as much time in application as I would have liked. So I fear the message become somewhat of "data-dump." I trust the Lord will make up for my weaknesses in preaching.

The subject of the church burdens me. I love the church. And my love for the church is an expression of my love and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. I am convinced that you cannot have one without the other, you cannot exalt Jesus and reject the church at the same time. At the same time, I am not blind to the sin, hypocrisy, and weakness of the church. I know that many people have been hurt, and the name of the Lord Jesus has been reproached, by foolishness that has taken place in the church. My heart breaks as I hear the news of high-profile religious leaders in the news the past weeks. And I also am grieved by the way my own congregation falls short of the Lord's expectations of us. I believe we are going in the right direction. But I know that we have a long way to go. And sometimes it seems like the progress of the church is two steps forward, three steps back. But be clear, none of these things change my mind and heart against the church. I believe in Jesus. Therefore, I believe in the church. I agree with the late Vance Havner, who used to say that you can't drown with your head above the water. And maybe that's the key. Maybe we need to be more inentional, strategic, diligent, passionate and focused on the supremacy of Jesus Christ. We should win people to Christ, not the church. And if I read my Bible right, a true devotion to Christ will result in participating membership in the church.

Pardon my rant. Here is the skeleton from Tuesday's sermon.

TITLE: “Three Pictures of the Church”

TEXT: Ephesians 2:19-22

THEME: The importance and nature of the church

Point: To be in Christ is to be in the church.

Probing Question: Why the church?

Transitional Sentence: In Ephesians 2:19-22, Paul explains what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ with three word-pictures.


I. We are citizens of God’s kingdom

A. Kingdom citizen involves rights.

B. Kingdom citizenship involves responsibilities.

C. Kingdom citizenship involves relationships.

II. We are members of God’s household

A. God is our Father.

B. Jesus is our Elder Brother.

C. We are brothers and sisters in Christ.

1. We should be present when the church meets.

2. We should participate in the life of the church.

3. We should protect the reputation of the church.

III. We are living stones in God’s temple (2:20-22)

A. The apostles and prophets are the foundation (v. 20a).

B. Jesus Christ himself is the cornerstone (vv. 20b-22).

1. We are being joined together in Christ (v. 21).

2. We are being built together in Christ (v. 22).

Monday, September 10, 2007

Remembering God

I resumed my study of Joshua yesterday in our morning services. My text was Joshua 4. I did not preach through the entire outline in either service. But I was able to get out the key points I wanted to make. Here is the sermon skeleton.

TITLE: “Don’t Forget to Remember”

TEXT: Joshua 4

THEME: The importance of remembering God

POINT: God commands you to remember who he is and what he has done for you.

PROBING QUESTION: Why is it important to deliberately and constantly remember who God is and what God has done?

PURPOSE: The purpose of this message is to challenge the hearer to take deliberate steps to continually remember the Person and Work of God.

TRANSITIONAL SENTENCE: The memorial stones Israel set up after crossing the Jordan teaches us three reasons why we should remember God.


I. The Lord commands us to remember what he has done for us (4:1-9).

A. You need spiritual reminders for where the Lord is taking you (vv. 2-3).

B. You need spiritual reminders of where the Lord has brought you (v. 9).

II. The Lord has done too much for us to forget his work on our behalf (4:10-19).

A. God fulfills his promises to us (v. 14).

B. God provides a way out of no way for us (vv. 15-18).

C. God completes what he has begun in us (v. 19).

III. The Lord is glorified when we remember him (4:20-24).

A. The next generation needs to meet our God (vv. 6-7, 21-23).

B. The unbelieving world needs to know our God (v. 24a).

C. You and I need to recognize how great our God is (v. 24b).

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Good News for Life's Dead Ends

Here is the book review I wrote in our church newsletter for our August book of the month.

I have some books that have shaped my life in powerful and significant ways. I also have some authors who have shaped my life – with practically every book they write or have written. Ron Mehl is one of those authors. In fact, I consider Mehl a good friend who I have only met through his writings. I was introduced to Ron Mehl some years ago through his book, "God Works the Night Shift." Honestly, I bought the book just for its provocative title. But in reading it, I made a friend for life. I immediately found, bought, and read Mehl’s "Surprise Endings." Then I eagerly waited for Mehl’s next work to be released. Finally, "Meeting God at a Dead End" was published, and I quickly devoured it. And I was not disappointed – except for the fact that I had to wait again for Mehl to write another work.

The late Ron Mehl was the pastor of the Beaverton Foursquare Church in Colorado until his death in 2003. And his writings were the overflow of his ministry to his beloved, Beaverton congregation, which he and his wife founded in 1973. This is one of the reasons why I appreciate Mehl’s writings so much. He wrote with a pastor’s heart – God-centered, scripture-based, and faith-building. And his writing style was clear, practical, and engaging. But I think I was most touched by the fact that Mehl’s writings were “real-world” (for lack of a better term). His writings really helped me to forge a real-world’s faith. This was because Mehl did not just write and preach about pain – he lived through it. In 1981, Mehl was diagnosed with incurable lymphocytic leukemia, which required him to undergo extensive chemotherapy. And in 1996, he suffered a heart attack that limited his activities. Yet, through it all, Mehl continued to display stubborn faith and to pursue his ministerial calling – which included his writing.

"Meeting God at a Dead End" is one of my favorite books. Filled with godly wisdom, scriptural insights, and practical illustrations, "Dead End" is an enjoyable, encouraging, and edifying read. Mehl makes it clear that every one of us will face dead ends. We will all find ourselves at points where life closes in on us as we deal with painful setbacks, crushing disappointments, family problems, health concerns, financial difficulties – or whatever it may be that causes you to think and feel that you cannot go any further. But the good news is that when you find yourself at a dead end in life, God always has a way of showing up to meet you there to manifest his character, strength, and purpose for you in fresh and new ways. That’s the point "Dead End" makes over twelve wonderfully compelling chapters. In the opening chapter, Mehl writes: “It’s about coming smack up against a brick wall and seeing no gates whatsoever – or even any loose bricks. It’s about coming to the end of our wisdom, the end of our strength, the end of our ideas, the end of our options, the end of our coping skills, and the end of our cherished dreams. It’s about standing in that dark, hopeless place and discovering – beyond all logic, against all hope – that God is very much alive and can fill our little cup to overflowing” (p. 21). Amen.

I am excited to commend my friend, Ron Mehl (whom I have never met!), and his great work Meeting God at a Dead End, as our August Book of the Month. Read it and be blessed. Share it and be a blessing.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

He himself is our Peace

Last night, we resumed our Tuesday night worship services. And I picked up our exposition of the Epistle to the Ephesians. Here is the sermon skeleton from last night's message.

TITLE: “God’s Plan for Peace”

TEXT: Ephesians 2:14-18

THEME: Reconciliation with God and one anther through the Person and work of Jesus Christ

POINT: Jesus Christ is the only way you can peace with God, self, and others.

PROBING QUESTION: Is true peace possible? If so, how can it be attained?

PURPOSE: There are two points of application the listener should leave this sermon with:

1. For unbelievers: You cannot be at peace without Christ.

2. For believers: We must be at peace because of Christ.

TRANSITIONAL SENTENCE: Ephesians 2:14-18 gives three reasons why you should look to Jesus Christ alone for peace.


I. Jesus Christ is our peace (2:14).

A. There is peace in the Person of Christ (v. 14a)

B. There is peace in the Work of Christ (v. 14b)

II. Jesus Christ made peace for us (2:15-16).

A. The law is the power by Christ has made peace for us (v. 15a).

B. The cross is the place where Christ made peace for us (v. 16a).

C. The church is the proof that Christ has made peace for us (v. 16b).

III. Jesus Christ preaches peace to all (2:17-18).

A. We receive the message of peace through Christ (v. 17).

B. We enjoy the privilege of peace through Christ (v. 18).

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Notes on a Preacher's Labor Days

We will resume our Tuesday night worship services tonight, after being "dark" on Tuesdays for the past two months. Throughout the summer I have been thinking about what I would teach when we resumed. And I decided several weeks ago that I will pick up our exposition of Ephesians that I had started earlier on Sundays. I plan to preach Ephesians 2:14-18 tonight, and finish chapter 2 with verses 19-22 next week. I look forward to getting back at it. Please pray for us.

Sunday. Sunday. Sunday.

What can I say?

I had been working on Joshua 4 for weeks. But when the weekend came, I still didn't feel ready to preach it. Between Friday and Sunday morning, I struggled to put my study in some preachable form. But it just wasn't clear in my mind. And, as the saying goes, if there is a fog in the pulpit, there will be a fog in the pew. So about 7:00 Sunday morning, I gave up. I preached an exposition from Matthew in our 8 AM service, did questions and answers during out mass Bible study hour, and then did an exposition from Isaiah in the 11 AM service. It was a different kind of day.

Anyway, my plan (at this point) is to finish Joshua 4 this week to preach this coming Sunday.

I read an article yesterday that said we shouldn't make preaching harder than it is. As I was reading the paragraph, I fully agreed. But later, I begin to think to myself, "What if it really is harder than me make it?" The bottom-line is that biblical preaching is hard work. And I don't think I'd have it any other way!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Let Me Take One Cent Back

Yesterday, I ranted about the fact that pulpit plagiarism is unethical. Today, I want to take it back, sort of.

Indeed, a man should do his own homework and come to the pulpit with the fruit of his own labor. However, as I said yesterday, no one is original. And, ultimately, no preacher should try to be. It should be our goal to simply be faithful and clear when we stand to preach or teach. The Lord really doesn’t ask us to be cute, clever, or creative in our ministry of the word. Now, that doesn’t mean that we should bore the people with the gospel. It means that we must remember that our preaching should exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, not our pulpit brilliance. So we should not try so hard to have our own “voice” that the congregation is not able to encounter the Christ as they listen to the sermon.
We live in a day where there are so many resources available, no one has an excuse for not being prepared. And we must be so proud or foolish that we refuse to accept help.

Personally, I try to share my material as freely as I can. I am not very possessive about my work. I feel that if I have said or written something that can help you in your presentation of the word, by all means, use it. If my bullets fit your gun, load up and shoot! I trust that my work has enough of my fingerprints on it (which includes both my strengths and my weaknesses), that if someone is going to use my material effectively, he must edit it heavily and determine what works best for him. And if they find it easy to use my material, I am complimented. I think it means my work is “portable.”

I guess I am trying to say that we are in this thing together. And the burden of weekly preparation is so difficult that we should seek to help one another in any we can – and we should look for help from wherever we can find it.

Urgent warning for all preachers and teachers: Sunday’s coming!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My Two Cents about Pulpit Plagiarism

I had an interesting experience last week that I keep thinking about. The first night of the meeting I was preaching, I stood to and called my text. And there was a weird response by the congregation. Something strange was happening, but I didn't know what. Lots of thoughts flooded my mind. But I really couldn't catch the vibe. The congregation, to whom I had preached the past four years, was quite tentative throughout the entire message. But I couldn't figure out why.

A few minutes after a sat down from preaching, it all became clear. One of the pastors leaned over to me and told me that the pastor who opened the meeting Sunday night preached the same text and/or message. And throughout the week, I kept hearing about how we both preached the same message. For some reason, it made me somewhat nervous. But, at the same time, I was at peace about it. I had preached what I believed the Lord wanted me to say. And my message was the product of my own Bible study and sermon preparation.

After the last service of the week, I received a copy of the other pastor's message on DVD. And even though I was dead-tired by the time I made it to my room, I crawled into bed with my computer and watched the message. Indeed, it was the same text. And, essentially, it was the same message. We both preached the same doctrinal theme from the text. But the organization of the messages were different. We labeled the messages differently. I worked through the message with three main points in my outline; he had four. THe homiletical approach was different. And the way we argued the message was different. It really was the same message preached from two different perspectives.

This got me to thinking about the ethical matter of pulpit plagiarism.

The late evangelist, Vance Havner, is quoted to have said that when he began preaching, he was determined to be original or nothing. He ended up being both, Havner said. This is true of every preacher. All faithful preachers deliver an unoriginal, "stolen" message - the word of God. Blblical preaching simply explains what the word of God means by what it says. And if we read the text right, we will find that the doctrinal theme we draw from the passage will be pretty close to the conclusions drawn by most faithful Bible expositors. In fact, if you come up with a reading of the text that no one else has ever seen, you're wrong! Likewise, most Bible expositors use many of the same exegetical resources. So it should be no surprise for you to hear two messages that "overlap," for lack of a better term.

But let's be clear. Stealing other people's material and preaching it as if it is your own work is wrong.

After the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech earlier this year, a high-profile "mega-church" pastor went to his pulpit and preached a message that he said the Lord had given him for the church. Later that week, his local newspaper outed him, claiming that the message he preached from actually from a website that sells sermons. And this "inspired" message had, in fact, had been preached and posted by several other pastors across the country that same day!

I repeat. This is wrong. The eighth commandment should apply to our pulpit work: "You shall not steal" (Exodus 20:15). Now, this is not to say that we shouldn't use sources. To the contrary, it's arrogant for you to study a text and preach a sermon on it without consulting the wisdom of those who have, in some instances, spent a lifetime studying those passages, books or themes. And I believer in collecting a lot of ideas in order to come up with one good idea. So I milk a lot of cows in sermon preparation. But I churn my own butter. And when you do this, something wonderful can happen. For instance, you can stand and preach a text that was just preached in that same pulpit three days earlier. And you can make the point the previous sermon made. Yet, God can use your preaching - YOUR PREACHING - to declare the unchanging truth of God's word in a fresh, new, and life-changing way.

Just my two cents.

Speaking @ Polly Chapel

I am in Texarkana (part Texas; art Arkansas. Get it?). Tonight, will be my last of three nights preaching for Pastor Reginald Reid and the Polly Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. The first two nights of the meeting have been great. Pastor Reid, a new friend, has been a warm and gracious host. And the worship services have been very warm and encouraging, which make for a "in season" setting to preach in. The Lord is doing a great work here through Pastor Reid and the Polly Chapel family.

Please pray for the final night of this meeting. And continue to cover Pastor Reid and Polly Chapel in your prayers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Speaking @ the Vallejo Citywide Revival

I'm an idiot.

I missed my flight to Oakland this morning. I tried to check my bag in and looked at my ticket information, only to discover that I was right on time for my return flight on Saturday, not my departing flight today. So I am had to catch a standby flight. Good thing Oakland is only a hour's flight away from Los Angeles.

Before I move on, let me repeat the point of that last paragraph loud and clear: I am an idiot! I don't have any other excuse to offer.

Anyway, I am here to preach the Vallejo Citywide Revival. The meeting has been going on since Sunday. My friend, Pastor Elliot Ivey, preached the first three nights. I am to do the last three nights.

This is my fourth year doing this meeting. And it has been a great blessing each time. My first two years I preached with Dr. Robert Smith of the New Bethel Church in Detroit. I did the first three nights. Last year, Dr. W.T. Glenn from Fort Worth did the opening three nights, and I closed the meeting.

In fact, last year an emergency prevented Pastor Glenn from being here. So Pastor Ivey spoke in his place. That was the first time I heard of Elliot Ivey. But we have met and become friends since then. And he can flat out preach! I regret that I did not get a chance to hear him.

The last two years, Crystal and the kids have come to this meeting with me. There is a Six Flags park right across the street from the hotel where I usually stay. So they would come up and we would hang out during the day. But Crystal and the kids just got home from a trip to Orlando with my sister and niece. They went to the Gospel music workshop. But not really. They really went to Disneyworld! And I think Crystal has had her fill of airplanes, hotels, and amusement parks. So they didn't/won't make the trip this time.

Please pray for me as I preach these three nights. May the Lord give the increase!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Not Ready for Prime Time TV Ministry

We have just began a television broadcast on local Time Warner Cable stations. The broadcast airs on Sunday afternoon at 4:30 in Los Angeles and Inglewood.

We taped my Sunday messages for several weeks, with the plan to use the material for the broadcast. But it did not come out the way we wanted it to. So we have decided to run to DVDs of messages I have preached on the road, until we are able to work out the kinks in our recording process.

This is a new venture for us and is definitely a step of faith. Please remember this new work in your prayers.

Women's Day @ Gethsemane

This past Sunday, I had the privilege of preaching at the Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church in Houston (TX), which is led by Pastor Dennis C. Jones. When Pastor Jones invited me to preach this meeting some months ago, we had not yet met. We only knew of each other through mutual friends. But in the providence of God, a schedule change resulted in us preaching together for a week in San Antonio earlier this year. I thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship with Pastor Jones, was blessed by each of the messages he preached, and left the meeting with a new friend. So I was really looking forward to being with Pastor Jones and the Gethsemane Church… Almost.

I had been watching the news about Hurricane Dean last week. And the meteorologists were saying that it was quite possible that it would end up hitting Houston, among other cities. Now, as a man who grew up in the land of earthquakes, you would think that I would not be nervous about a hurricane. But two women changed my mind – Katrina and Rita! As I sat in the airport Saturday morning, Pastor Jones called to check on me. My first question was about the weather. The report he gave me helped me relax – until we got 150 miles from Houston and were placed in a holding pattern because of storm activity over the airport. Thankfully, we made it safely. And the weather was nice the whole time I was there. But continue pray for those who have been hit by the hurricane, and those who may be in its path.

The women’s ministry of Gethsemane had activities the whole weekend. And the emphasis climaxed with the two services I preached Sunday morning. Gethsemane is a very warm and friendly congregation. And the worship was reverent, yet passionate. The congregation is multi-generational. And things were conducted with both sincerity and excellence. I was also impressed by how the congregation seemed to be both traditional and contemporary at the same time, with both weaved together quite seamlessly. I was happily reminded by this that you don’t have to choose one or the other to be effective.

I don’t like being away from MSMBC on Sunday mornings. But it was a joy to be with Pastor Jones and the Gethsemane Church. The messages seemed to be well-received. And there was great ease in preaching, as the congregation was quite attentive and alert. And as late as afternoon email I received yesterday afternoon, I have received reports of how God used the messages to encourage and edify those who were present. Praise God!