Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Preaching in Ann Arbor

I flew home from New Orleans early Monday morning. And I spent the day with Crystal and the kids. But over the course of the day, I got sick. But there was no time to rest and recover. Tuesday morning, I had to get on a plane to Ann Arbor to preach. I took medicine Monday night. It was labeled "non-drowsy." But my body doesn't know what that means. So I ended up oversleeping. I woke up at 4:47 AM. My flight was to leave LAX at 6 AM. Yet, I made my flight and my they didn't even lose my luggage. I can't believe it.

I am in Ann Arbor, preaching at the Second Baptist Church, where Mark Lyons is the pastor. I met Mark when I was sixteen years old, when I was invited to preach at his home church in Louisville. Mark has served Second Baptist Church for five years now. And the Lord is doing a great work here. Being here is another reminder that prominence and significance don't often go hand-in-hand. That is, the person in front of the line is not necessarily the most important person in the line.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Preaching @ Beacon Light(s)

Yesterday, I preached the fourth anniversary celebration of the Beacon Light Baptist Church of Houma, LA, which is about 45 minutes from New Orleans. Under the leadership of Pastor Herbert Andrew, this fast growing congregation is touching many lives in its community and beyond. The two morning services I preached (7:30 & 10 AM) were rich worship experiences. It would have been worth it to be here just to participate in the worship services. Their reverence, passion, and excellence in worship are quite uplifting. I thank God for the new friend I have in Pastor Andrew. And I pray God's continued blessings on this young but strong church.

I was hooked up to Pastor Andrew through his spiritual mentor, Bishop Daryl Brister – senior pastor of Beacon Light Church in Houston and New Orleans. In meeting Pastor Brister earlier this year, a new friendship quickly developed. And he introduced me to Pastor Andrew, who was his 1st assistant pastor until Brister planted him in this Houma congregation four years ago. In fact, Beacon Light Houma is the first of five churches in Louisiana that Bishop Brister has planted in the past four years.

I came back to New Orleans to preach for Bishop Brister at the "mother church" in the afternoon, which meets at Greater St. Stephens' West Bank location (Bishop Paul Morton). Beacon Light's facilities was heavily damaged during Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath, Brister began a site in Houston. At this point, Brister preaches in Houston on Sunday mornings, and then flies to New Orleans in the afternoon. He then teaches Bible Study in Houston on Tuesdays, rotates among the daughter churches on Wednesdays, does the New Orleans Bible study on Thursdays, and then heads back to Houston to start all over again the next week. That makes me tired just typing it. I preached the New Orleans service for him yesterday. And it was another great experience. Being in the service revealed to me where Pastor Andrew picked up the wisdom he has in leading worship and shepherding a congregation. God is moving this congregation from devastation to restoration. Please pray for Bishop Brister and this great congregation, as they restore their facilities and continue to changes lives in this area that so desperately needs the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Joy of Books & Reading

I am at the airport in Salt Lake, waiting for my connecting flight to New Orleans. For the record, I hate airports. And I hate layovers. So I was not too happy about my several hour layover, when I got off the plane from San Francisco. But a bookstore in this airport has made my day. Well, not the bookstore itself. I didn't really go into it. But as I passed by, I noticed these quotes about books and reading in the window display. These quotes made my day. The happiness I felt reading these quotes is indescribable. I could personally relate to each of these statements about the joy of books and reading. I jotted them down to share. Here they are. Enjoy!

"Books may be the only true magic." - Alice Hoffman

"A book is a delight to the mind." - Anonymous

"What is reading but silent conversation?" - Walter Savage Landor

"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." - Chinese proverb

"You can taste a word." - Patricia Bailey

"Tis the good reader that makes the good book." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I am a part of all I read." - John Kieran


Friday, March 23, 2007

Last Day in Town – San Francisco

Today is my last day in San Francisco. It has been a grueling week, physically – with services in both the afternoon and the evening. But it has been spiritually enriching. The afternoon services I have been preaching have been good meetings. I have heard so many stories of how the messages have helped people in specific ways. This is so encouraging. Often people just make general comments about your preaching. But when someone pinpoints the particular way God has used your preaching of the word to touch their life, it's so uplifting. The evening services have been great, as well. Dr. Nathan Johnson, who pastors the Tabernacle M.B.C. in Detroit, preached from the psalms each night. And each message was right on time for me personally (Prov. 25:11). It's been so refreshing to just spend a week sitting under such helpful and faithful biblical preaching.

I have one more sermon to preach this afternoon. Pastor Elliot Ivey, who serves the New Beginnings Church in Oakland, will close the meeting out this evening. Then it is time to go home – almost. In the morning, I am scheduled to leave here for New Orleans. I am to preach three messages there this coming Sunday before I head home Monday morning. Please continue to pray for me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Preaching the San Francisco Citywide Revival

I am in San Francisco, preaching their citywide revival. I started yesterday and will preach through Friday. This is my third year preaching this meeting. I am the midday speaker. The evening speaker is Dr. Nathan Johnson of the historic Tabernacle Baptist Church in Detroit. Pastor Elliot "Poison" Ivey, who serves the New Beginnings Missionary Baptist Church in the area, brought the opening message Sunday night and will close the meeting out Friday night.

The past two years I was here, I caught a cold and was sick the whole week. So far, all is well. Praise God! I have already preached two messages. And they have been well-received. Yesterday, I took the hand held microphone and began to preach. But I couldn't really hear anything. Neither could the congregation. And it never got any better. Come to find out that we had never turned it on. So I preached the whole sermon holding a microphone that wasn't even on. But I preached my heart out. And God graciously sustained me in preaching. I have three more messages to preach. Please keep this meeting in your prayers.

Preaching in my Old Man’s Shadow

Sunday night, I was privileged to preach for my friend Pastor Michael Ealey at the Christ Second Baptist Church in Long Beach. Pastor Ealey has been preaching me since I was a boy. And he has proven to be a faithful friend over the years. I remember when I was going through a storm in the early days of my pastorate. Many of my "friends" backed away. But one day I got a call from Pastor Ealey to let me know that he was there for me and was covering me in prayer. I will never forget that act of kindness. It encouraged me at a critical time. So whenever I can be of any service to Pastor Ealey, I'm all in.

Christ Second Baptist Church is celebrating its 100th church anniversary this year. And one of the reasons why Ealey invited me is because my father pastured Christ Second for 10 years. My you, my father served MSMBC for forty years, and I have served there for 16 years. So that tells you how long ago this was. Yet, every time I go to Christ Second, I meet someone who was baptized, married, etc. by my father. It's amazing. One lady compared my preaching to my father's younger days. I was honored. It's one of the best compliments I've received in a long time. Plus, without me really knowing it, God used me to preach a timely message to Pastor Ealey and the congregation. I am glad to have been invited to join in this wonderful celebration. As tired as I was, I really left there renewed by the worship and the fellowship. Please remember Pastor Ealey and the Christ Second Church in your prayers.

The Relocation Meeting

We changed our Sunday schedule this past weekend in order to accommodate a special congregation meeting. We do not do "business meetings" on Sundays. But this was an exception. The pastoral leaders of our church have been praying about relocating the congregation to a new site, because of the various space challenges our congregation faces at our 1800 facility. I thank God for the blessing our church site is to us. And I thank God for how he has helped us to cope with some of the challenges. We have no parking. And our members park in a lot a block or so from the church, behind a supermarket. I know that sounds. But this free parking space has been a blessing to us. And we have some of our Sunday morning small-groups in a facility down the street from the church. It's an Usher's center that has been made available to us for a minimal cost. With God's help, we have been strategic and creative in trying to make the best use of the space we have. But it has become increasingly challenging. And I believe that it really put a strain on the congregation over the past year. We have a committed core in our church. But it is difficult to reach unsaved and unchurched people with the space issues we have. And it's also difficult to minister to the young Christians in our church and nurture them to spiritual development with these challenges. Over the past several years, we have wavered between remodeling our present space and relocation. But we are not at a point where our leadership is united in seeking to relocate.

About six weeks ago, we were introduced to a church facility in our city that has become available. It would be an ideal place for our congregation, in so many ways. In fact, it is a site where the congregation used to meet some forty years ago. It would definitely be a step of faith for our church. But we believe that it is God's will that we pursue this open door. So we met with the congregation Sunday to ask their approval to make an offer on these facilities. It was a typical MSMBC meeting – peaceful, prayerful, purposeful, and playful. I gave a brief presentation, took questions, and then we voted. Of the three motions we voted on, there was only one nay vote. The congregation seems to be both united and excited about this opportunity and willing to do what it take to take this great step of faith. Praise God! I am asking that you would join our congregation in prayer about this matter. Pray that God would give us these facilities, that he would help us to acquire these facilities in a manner that we will be able to sustain, and that our ministry would expand as a result of this move. Above all, pray that God would be glorified in and through us as we take this step of faith.

Giving to God III

Sunday morning, I delivered the third part of our month-long series on "Giving to God." Sunday's message was, "How Should I Give to God?" The bottom line of the message was the priority of pleasing God in your giving (Genesis 4:3-5). I gave seven principles for giving in a way that pleases God:

  1. Give worshipfully (Prov. 3:9-10; Matt. 6:1-4).
  2. Give willingly (2 Co. 8:7; 9:7).
  3. Give intentionally (Prov. 27:23-24; 1 Co. 16:1-2).
  4. Give generously (Prov. 11:24-25; 2 Co. 9:6).
  5. Give sacrificially (2 Sam. 24:24; Mark 12:41-44).
  6. Give joyfully (Acts 20:35; 2 Co. 9:7, 15).
  7. Give expectantly (Eccl. 11:1-2; Luke 6:38; 2 Co. 9:10-11).

This Sunday, my pastoral assistant, George Hurtt, will give the concluding message of this series: "What Difference Does My Giving to God Make?"

Catching Up Posts


Over the next day or so, I will be doing some "catching up" posts. There have been a lot of things going on with me and mine that I want to make note of. I have just been a little busy. So I plan to catch you up with my little world as quickly as I can.

Keep reading.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Preaching @ St. Paul in Sacramento

I have been preaching at the St. Paul Baptist Church in Sacramento the past three days (Wed-Fri). Pastor Ephraim Williams is leading the congregation in a celebration of 59 years of ministry, which will conclude this Sunday. This was my second time ministering at St. Paul. It's a bit intimidating to preach at St. Paul, for various reasons. But it has been quite refreshing to worship with St. Paul and to fellowship with Pastor Williams. Dr. Ephraim Williams is a legend. His integrity, wisdom, love, vision, and courage have been used by God over the past 36 years to nurture St. Paul into an "epicenter church." I trust that the messages were a blessing to the membership of St. Paul. And I am grateful that the invitation has been extended to me to come again next year, God willing. Please keep Pastor Williams and St. Paul in your prayers.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Giving to God (Part II)

Yesterday, I continued our financial stewardship sermon series, “Giving to God.” The message was “What should I give to God?” I offered three answers to that question.

I. Give God the tithe.

A. Tithing is an expression of devotion (Gen. 14:20; 28:18-22).

B. Tithing is an act of worship (Lev. 27:30; Mal. 3:6-10).

C. Tithing is a spiritual discipline (Matt. 23:23; 1 Co. 16:2).

D. Tithing is a statement of faith (Mal. 3:10).

II. Give God an offering.

A. Offerings are freewill gifts (2 Co. 9:7)

B. Offerings are declarations of thanksgiving (Ps. 50:14).

C. Offerings are investments in the work of God (Phil. 4:18).

III. Give God yourself (2 Co. 8:1-5; Rom. 12:1-2).

Friday, March 09, 2007

My Last Day at the Alamo

In spite of the fact that the San Antonio Spurs live and play here, I have really enjoyed being in San Antonio this week. This citywide revival has been refreshing, edifying, and encouraging. I have made some new friends this week. I have heard some strong preaching for Pastor Dennis Jones. And I have felt free to preach my heart in the services I that have been assigned to me. Today is our last day in town. Pastor Jones is to preach the closing midday service this afternoon. And I am scheduled to preach the closing evening service tonight. May the real revival begin after these services have ended.

For the record, I I have been here all week and have not seen the Alamo yet, which happens to be the primary thing I know about San Antonio. But who knows? I may get to drive by it before the day is over.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A thought about Greener Grass

I statement has been on my mind the past day. I don't know why. But it keeps coming to my mind: The greener grass on the other side of the fence comes with a higher water bill.

Update from the Alamo

I am in San Antonio to preach the Baptist Ministers Union’s annual citywide revival. And I am really enjoying this meeting. Citywide revivals are not what they used to be – for many reasons. But this meeting has been special. The day and night services have been well attended, with extra seats being place in the aisles. And the congregations seem to be ready for worship and eager to receive the word in every service.

Pastor Dennis Jones of the Gethsemane Baptist Church in Houston is my preaching partner this week. This is his third consecutive year doing this meeting. So the city is familiar with his preaching. And there has been a sense of great anticipation each time he has preached. It has been a joy to get to know him and fellowship with him.

But I am out of gas!!! I rarely do five-day meetings. So my mind thinks it is time to go home, even though I have two more messages to preach. Likewise, there are both day and evening services. And it’s a rotating preaching schedule – I preached last night and will preach this morning, but won’t preach again until tomorrow night. I am a little tired now. But I am looking forward to these final messages. The Lord has blessed this meeting in a great way. I cannot begin to describe it. And I cannot wait to see what the Lord is going to do in these final services. Keep us in your prayers.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Preaching the San Antonio Citwide Revival

Last night, I preach the first of five messages I am scheduled to deliver in the San Antonio Citywide Revival. The meeting began on Sunday night. And Henry Batson III of the Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas (Pastor Freddie Haynes) was the speaker. And in the opening midday service yesterday, my preaching partner for the week, Pastor Dennis Jones of the Gethsemane Baptist Church in Houston, brought the message. Pastor Rudolph McKissick Jr of the Bethel Baptist Church in Jacksonville was my scheduled partner. But I was informed that he took ill last week and was unable to make the trip (please remember him in your prayers). So the brothers called Pastor Jones Friday and asked him to come. Pastor Jones has preached this meeting the past two years, so he was an obvious choice for the brothers. He had preached the meeting the past two years with Pastor John Adolph of the Antioch Baptist Church in Beaumont. And it was my friend, John Adolph, who recommended me to the brothers here. I am truly grateful for his continued kindness to me and for the fact that the pastors of this community consented to extend this invitation to me.

The brothers told me it was a light house last night (this is preacher-talk for the attendance was less that expected). But it was still a well-attended service. I am expecting it to be a good week of worship and fellowship. The evening services are being held at the Antioch Baptist Church, where E. Thurman Walker is the pastor. And the day sessions are being held at the Calvary Baptist Church, where Kevin L. Nelson is the pastor. Pastor L.A. Williams is the General Chairman of the revival. And Pastor Joshua Joubert is the President of the Baptist Ministers Union

I was more nervous than usual last night, not knowing anybody in San Antonio. And to my knowledge, none of the brothers had ever heard me preach – in person or via recording. But a couple of my friends from Corpus Christi were present, Pastors Lane and Pullum. So that helped me to relax a bit. And the brothers were so kind and welcoming to me. Likewise, the congregation was receptive to the ministry of the word. Sometimes you can feel that people are just “smoking you over” the first night. But I did not get that feeling last night. It was a warm service and congregation seemed just as eager to hear the word as I was to preach it. I will be preaching the midday service today and Pastor Jones will be preaching the evening service. Please pray that many lives will be changed in the remaining days of this revival series.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Giving to God

Yesterday, I began a four-part series on financial stewardship that I am simply calling, “Giving to God.” I usually do a stewardship series each year. Over the past years, it’s been in the month of May. This year I decided to do it in March. There was no deep rationale behind it, though. There are also several other differences this go-round. First, I am preaching thematic sermons, connecting passages, rather than expositions of a particular passage. Likewise, I am using printed outlines that we are distributing for the congregation to fill in as I am giving the message. Again, there was no deep rationale behind these changes. We just decided to do something different this time. And the congregation seemed to receive the message well yesterday. The message was entitled, “Why should I give to God?” Using selected scriptures I gave for reasons for giving to God:

1. What I possess, God owns.
2. What I give, God multiplies.
3. What I invest, God rewards.
4. What I need, God supplies.

There are three more messages in the series:

3/11 – What should I give to God?
3/18 – How should I give to God?
3/25 – What difference does my giving to God make?

My associate, George Hurtt, will deliver the closing message on March 25. Please pray for the remainder of these messages and that God help us to be more faithful stewards of our financial resources as our minds are renewed by the word of God.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Go, Natalie! It's Your Birthday!

Today is my daughter's birthday. Natalie Marie Charles turned 5-years-old today. Or is that 25? I'm not sure sometimes. My little girl is growing up so fast. She is such a little lady. And I am very proud of her. Crystal gave Natalie a tea party Saturday. When I arrived for the party, Natalie greeted my kind of coldly. She was upset about something. We couldn't figure out what the matter was. Finally, she told me and Crystal that the tea party was just for girls and that I was not dressed right for the party. Little girls. What are you going to do?

My ongoing prayer for Natalie, and her brother H.B., is that they would grow as Jesus grew - in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52)

Happy Birthday Princess!!!