Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Gift of Gifts

O Source of all good, What shall I render to thee for the gift of gifts, Thine own dear Son, begotten, not created My Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute, His self-emptying incomprehensible, His infinity of love beyond the heart’s grasp. Herein is wonder of wonders: he came below to raise me above, was born like me that I might become like him. Herein is love; when I cannot rise to him he draws near on wings of grace, to raise me to himself. Herein is power; when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart he united them in indissoluble unity, the uncreated and the created. Herein is wisdom; when I was undone, with no will to return to him, and no intellect to devise recovery, he came, God-incarnate, to save me to the uttermost, As man to die my death, To shed satisfying blood on my behalf, To work out a perfect righteousness for me. O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds, And enlarge my mind; Let me hear good tidings of great joy, And hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore, My conscience bathed in an ocean of repose, My eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father; Place me with ox, ass, camel, goat, To look with them upon my Redeemer’s face, And in him account myself delivered from sin; Let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child to my heart, Embrace him with undying faith, Exulting that he is mine and I am his. In him thou has given me so much that heaven can give no more. The Valley of Vision, pp. 28-29

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Concert Tonight at Shiloh

Tonight at 7 PM, the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville will host our music department's annual Christmas Concert.

Our Worship and Arts Department is under the capable hands of Dr. Roger Sears.

Our Mass Choir, Forgiven Ensemble, Children and Youth Choir, and Praise Dance Team will all be performing tonight.

It will be a great celebration of the miraculous birth and redemptive work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If you live in the Jacksonville area - and your local church does not have a meeting scheduled - joins us for this special time of worship. Or watch it online at

Monday, December 19, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 12/18/11

Happy Birthday Crystal!

I am not good at surprises. But I did a pretty good job this weekend. I sent from my niece Harriette, who is very close to Crystal, to visit for the weekend while I am away. I think it is the best birthday gift I have ever given Crystal.

I am writing this post from Chicago.

I filled in this Sunday for my friend, Romell Williams, at the Lilydale Progressive Baptist Church, as he is recovering from surgery.

Romell has bailed me out on many occasions. It was a privilege to return the favor.

Romell and his family mean so much to me that I not only left my pulpit on a Sunday morning, but I was also away on my wife’s birthday. This is an indication of what the Williams family means to the Charles family.

I am a better friend to Romell than he is to me. He preached for me last month. And I brought him from the cold of Chicago to the warmth of Jacksonville. But to preach for him I had to leave the warmth of Jacksonville to come to a snowstorm in Chicago!

It was a great day of worship and fellowship!

I preached to messages from the Psalms that I have recently preached at Shiloh. I love the Psalms!

I have been battling a cold all week. I felt the best Sunday than I have all week. Credit prayer, rest, and Dayquil.

I really missed being with at Shiloh today.

I received good reports of how the Lord used West Wilson and Donald Lewis to minister the word today. Praise God.

Praise God for those who were saved and added to the church today.

I am looking forward to preaching Christmas morning, God willing.

Did you know that the Dallas Cowboys whipped up on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday night?

I missed a really good boxing match Saturday night. Can’t wait to see the replay.

Was the Lord with Tim Tebow Sunday?

The Indianapolis Colts finally won a game. And then announced that Peyton Manning will not play this season.

I can’t tell you how glad I am that the Green Bay Packers lost this weekend.

I think I am beginning to get excited about the upcoming NBA season. Go Heat!

Breaking News: This season, I will also be cheering for the Los Angeles… Clippers!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our 13th Wedding Anniversary

Thirteen years ago today I was blessed to marry the love of my life, Crystal.

Crystal and I met in high school. Los Angeles High School. Go Romans! I was a senior. She was in the tenth grade. We met in Coach Williams World History Class. We sat next to each other. And every day, Crystal would ask me if I had my homework (probably, so she could cheat). Most times, I had not done my homework, either. I would have let he cheat if I did!

I thought Crystal was beautiful. How could I not? But I was not interested in me. And I was not interested in her. It was not until we were both out of high school that we began to date. She was visiting my sister at my mother’s house. I came by while she was there. I tried to be smooth. But my sister Donetta fronted me out. She said, “Why are you trying to be cool? You ask about Crystal all the time!” I left.

The next day, Crystal came to church with Donetta. Later that evening, a group of young adults from the church went to the movies. They asked me to go. I told them that I would only go if “cuteness” was going. Another failed attempt to be smooth. She went. So I went. And she let me drive her home after the movie. That’s how it all began.

We dated casually for quite some time. There was no a lot of pressure on either side. And love kind of snuck up on us. At some point, we just got to the place where we had to be with each other all the time.

Crystal’s mom, Charlene, fell in love with me long before Crystal did. When Crystal and I were not talking, she would intervene. She would also let me come see Crystal when I got out of class at night. And she did not get upset when my associate preachers and I would start the most epic water gun fights in front of her building. We miss her a lot.

My proposal was unsmooth and unromantic, even though I tried really hard to surprise her and to make it special. There were circumstances beyond my control. Long story. I am just glad she said yes.

My brother, Kevin Willis, did the opening portion of our wedding ceremony. My Pop, John Reed, preached. And my pastor, Melvin Wade, did the vows.

Our wedding did not start on time. But it was not because the bride or wedding party was not ready. It was because our state president brought the president of the National Baptist Convention to meet me. We couldn’t start until his “official” visit was over. (I will not say who the national president was at the time).

We spent our honeymoon in San Diego, about three hours out of Los Angeles. We chose San Diego for two reasons. I was broke. And I was just coming out of a four-year court battle. And there were papers my lawyer needed me to sign as we reorganized the church. So I couldn’t be too far away when he called me in. Crystal should have run then!

Crystal insisted that she did not want children right away. We needed time together. I argued that we should be ready for children soon. Crystal became pregnant immediately. And she immediately turned maternal. I was in shock. I Still am.

I have become a much more complete person as a result of being married to Crystal. The Lord has used her to teach me how to receive and extend love.

One of the things I love about Crystal is that she is so predictable. I mean that in the best sense of the term. Over the years, I have not had to guess what I was going to have to deal with when I got home. She has an even temperament and stable disposition. Me, not so much.

I am in Jacksonville because of two people. The Lord Jesus Christ. And Crystal. With so many people in my ear about what I should and should not do, Crystal dealt gently with me.

These are just some of the thoughts that have been on my mind about the past thirteen years of marriage to Crystal. As this point, we have known one another for twenty years.

I have been blessed way out of my league to be married to such a wonderful woman. I thank God every day for her. And I pray that the Lord will give us many more blessed years together.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

notes from Sunday - 12/11/11

Great day of worship at Shiloh today.

Grateful for all the guests who were in worship with us today.

As usual, our children choir did a great job singing in worship today.

Praise God for those who were baptized today.

I had the opportunity to chat with several new members today. Very encouraging testimonies.

I preached from Psalm 3. I called the message, “It’s Not As Bad As It Seems.”

The point of the message: Things are never as bad as they seem, if God is on your side.


I. Bring your complaints to the Lord (3:1-2).
A. He told the Lord about what his enemies were doing (v. 1)
B. He told the Lord about what his enemies were saying (v. 2)
II. Place your confidence in the Lord (3:3-6).
A. Confidence in who the Lord is (vv. 3)
B. Confidence in what the Lord has done (vv. 4-6)
III. Give your conflict to the Lord (3:7-8).
A. God will fight your battle (v. 7)
B. God will give you the victory (v. 8)

I have had a great time preaching from the Psalms over the past several weeks. I plan to preach one more sermon from the Psalms in our Midweek Worship Service this Wednesday evening.

Praise God for those who were added to the church today.

I enjoyed the fellowship with one of our districts after church today.

I planned to go to Jaguars game today. I but I was too tired to go. I do not regret going home and getting in the bed!

The Jags whipped the Bucs today 41-14.

I had the privilege of speaking at the chapel for the Bucs on Saturday evening. But it apparently did not help them today. I am now 4-1 for the season.

What can you say about Tim Tebow. 7-1. That’s what you say.

As I write this, the Cowboys are playing the Giants. The score is close at the end of the 3rd quarter. But I am trusting the Cowboys will pull it out.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 12/4/11

It was so good to be home with my church family this weekend!

Last week, I was in Antigua and Barbuda, speaking for the Eastern Caribbean Baptist Mission led by Dr. Jensworth W.C. Jonas. Crystal joined me on the trip. And we had a great time.

I look forward to future Missions partnership with Dr. Jonas and the ECBM.

Saturday night, John P. Kee was in concert on our campus. John P. Kee!

John Kee did not see “Jesus is Real.” What’s up with that?

One of my favorite female Gospel voices – Lejuene Thompson – was singing backup. I wish I had the opportunity to hear her sing more.

Thanks to all our staff and volunteers who prepared for the concert Saturday and then got the campus ready for worship Sunday. You make it happen!

We had a wonderful celebration of the Lord’ Supper in both of our services.

I was glad to have our guests in worship with us.

I forgot to do our “Fighter Verses” in both services. It is a weird irony that I forgot our memory verse!

I preached “Out of the Depths” from Psalm 130.

I argued that God is able to take you from the depths of personal despair to the heights of divine favor.

Psalm 130 teaches us what to do to move the hand of God to reach you and lift you out of the depths:

I. Cry out for God’s mercy (130:1-2).
II. Remember God’s goodness (130:3-4).
III. Wait on God’s promises (130:5-6).
IV. Proclaim God’s redemption (130:7-8).

I plan to preach the psalms over the next few weeks. I love praying David’s harp!

Praise God for those who were saved and added to the church in our worship services yesterday.

Yesterday was our youth pastor’s last day. We are praying for Pastor Andrae Robinson and his family as he transitions to his new ministry position.

After church, we shared a meal with several of our church districts who were having their Christmas fellowship. We had a good time.

Last night, I had the privilege of speaking at the chapel service for the San Diego Chargers. It was a great time in the word of God with the brothers.

The Cowboys lost to the Cardinals yesterday because of an inexplicably bad coaching decision in the 4th quarter. But thanks to the Giants losing to the Packers, we still lead the divisions. Go Cowboys!

Tiger Woods won his first tournament in two years yesterday.

Miguel Cotto beat up Antonio Margarito to win at 10th round TKO.

The BCS Championship game will be a rematch between LSU and Alabama. I am fine with this.

The Jags will play the Chargers tonight on Monday Night Football? Who you got?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 11/27/11

Crystal and I are in Antigua & Barbuda.

I am here to preach for the East Caribbean Baptist Mission led by Dr. Hensworth W.C. Jonas.

The Central Baptist Church, one of the oldest Baptist congregations here, celebrated its 46th church anniversary this weekend. Tryells Baptist Church and Covenant Baptist Church, which are plants and extensions of Central on different parts of the island, also celebrated almost 20 years of ministry.

This is Antigua’s Harvest Celebration, which seems to be similar to our Thanksgiving. It is a time when the people here give thanks to God for his provisions. The various congregations dress their chapels with fruit to signify God’s provisions, goodness, and faithfulness.

I preached at the Tyrells Baptist Church for the 8 AM Service. Then I preached about 20 minutes away at the Central Baptist Church at 10 AM.

Sunday evening, I preached again for a joint service at the Central Baptist Church.

Over the next three nights, I will preach an evangelistic meeting – one night at each of the locations in the Baptist circuit, as it is called.

The weather here has been beautiful. Even though it rained really hard last night, it still felt great outside!

Various insects are eating us alive. It goes with the territory, I understand.

I received reports that Shiloh had a great day of worship yesterday in my absence. God be praised!

Thanks to Vince Towns and Brodes Perry for ministering the word to the saints.

I really missed being in worship with my congregation yesterday.

My phone has not been working here. That may be a good thing.

The USC Trojans hung 50 points in a shutout against the UCLA Bruins. Just wait until next year, when our sanctions are over!

Looks like we are headed for a LSU-Alabama for the BCS championship. I have no problem with this.

The Jags lost at home to the Texans with a no-name quarterback, 13-20.

Matt Leinart just cannot cut a break!

The Cowboys beat the Dolphins on Thanksgiving. Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful!

Tim Tebow.

I do not think I care that the NBA has reach an agreement and will soon begin a shortened season. I may change my mind when the NFL season is over.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Speaking @ the East Caribbean Baptist Mission (Antigua)

I am writing this post from Antigua & Barbuda.

Crystal and I arrived Friday evening. I am here to speak for the East Caribbean Baptist Mission led by Dr. Hensworth W.C. Jonas.

Dr. Jonas is the pastor of Central Baptist Church, where he has served for 26 years. Under his leadership, the congregation has planted several affiliated churches across the island. It was what we would call “one church in multiple locations.” Central is also the home of one of the leading schools on the island, which is also led by Dr. Jonas.

I am here to speak for their Harvest Sunday and circuit anniversary. There will also be a 3-night evangelistic crusade.

I was privileged to speak for this meeting last year. It was a rich time of fellowship and worship. I am glad and grateful to have been invited to participate in the meeting again this year.

I will speak at their leadership banquet tonight. And I think I am scheduled to speak 3 times on Sunday. Then there will be services Monday through Wednesday.

This trip is already a better trip than last year, because I am not traveling by myself. Crystal is with me. This is the first time we have traveled out of the country together. And I am hoping to get some rest and refreshment during our stay.

Please cover us with believing prayer this week.

May the Lord bless the ministry of the word to draw the lost, edify the saints, and bring glory to his majestic name!

Friday, November 25, 2011

When the Holidays are not Happy

When the Holidays are not Happy
By H.B. Charles, Jr.

The holiday season – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years – is a special time for many people. It is a time of celebration. Family and friends come together that may not have seem one another for a while. Wonderful meals are enjoyed. Gifts are shared. Affirming traditions are practiced. No wonder so many people look forward to the year-end holidays all year long.

But this is not the case for all. There are also many people who find the holidays to be a time of grief and sorrow.

My father was estranged from his father for most of his adult life. They finally reconciled. And my dad drove across the country to pick up his father, who was to live with him. His father died during the trip back to the West Coast. On Thanksgiving. As a result, my father could never really “celebrate” Thanksgiving.

Your story may not be as dramatic as my father’s experience. But the sorrows of the holidays are just as real to you.

It may be that the recession has brought about a financial reversal in your life. And the holidays are an acute reminder of your new reality.

You may be separated from loved-ones because of military service.

The holidays may be particularly stressful time that causes you to become anxious about your life situation.

A misunderstanding or disagreement may have broken fellowship with those you care about.

You may feel that you have healed from the grief a death has caused until the holidays come around again.

These days may confront you with the fact that the plans that you started the year with did not come to pass.

Things in your life are not the way you want them to be and just don’t feel like celebrating.

For whatever reason, you may face this holiday season with a sense of trepidation. You just want it to be over with. The Lord sees and knows and cares about you. Your situation is in his sovereign hands. And God really does cause everything that happens in life to cooperate for the benefit of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28).

The holidays may not be a happy time for you. What should you do? “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

This is the power of Christian joy. You don’t have to be happy to rejoice! Give your situation to God. Count your blessings. Remember the faithfulness of God. Trust his promises. And praise God that things are as well as they are.

Job was right. “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Bless the Lord, because he always gives before he takes away. Bless the Lord, because he always gives more than he takes away. And bless the Lord, because even when he takes away, he leaves you enough to make it with.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Service @ Shiloh

There will not be a Midweek Worship Service at Shiloh this evening.

We will meet in the morning for a special Thanksgiving Day Service at 9 AM in our Coleman Auditorium.

Start your holiday be joining us for corporate worship. God is the source every good gift and perfect gift. And he is worthy to be praised for all of his undeserved benefits toward us.

Hope to see you there!

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Things I've Learned Along the Way...

Things I have learned along the way…

I have been in pastoral ministry for over 21 years now. I started my first pastorate when I was 17-years-old, still a senior in high school. I served Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles for almost 18 years. And it has been my privilege to serve the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville for a little more than 3 years now.

I have learned a lot about pastoral ministry over these years. Of course, I still have quite a bit to learn. I hope to be a lifelong learner. But I am not a rookie anymore, either.

I recently began to list things I have learned over the years. These are not deep, theological, doctrinal truths. Just personal conclusions I have made about ministry through two decades of observation and experience.

This is not a scientific list. It is in no particular order of importance or category. Just a collection of thoughts. I am sure the list would be much longer if I kept writing. And I would probably replace some things with other things, if I took more time with it. But for whatever it’s worth, here about 103 things about pastoral ministry I have learned along the way.

1. Your primary responsibility as a pastor is prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4).

2. Sheep bite.

3. Faithful preaching does not guarantee church growth.

4. Just because there is a crowd does not mean there is a church.

5. Nothing is as good as it seems; nothing is as bad as it seems.

6. Don’t assume anything.

7. All church fights are bad. But some church fights are necessary.

8. It happens after prayer.

9. The most important people in a pastor’s life are those he can have an honest conversation with.

10. Be careful of giving members multiple positions of authority in the church.

11. Ministerial success cannot be determined by the size of a pastor’s congregation.

12. Preaching can get you into trouble. And preaching can get you out of trouble.

13. No one is indispensable.

14. The better the worship is the better my preaching is.

15. Pick your battles carefully. Every hill is not worth dying on.

16. People will remember how you treat them long after they have forgotten your sermons.

17. Prominence and significance are not the same thing. The one who is in front of the line is not necessarily the most important person in the line.

18. If you take care of God’s business, God will take care of your business.

19. The pastor who is always available will be of no use when he is available.

20. Doing pastoral care should be seen as a means of maintaining a pastoral heart.

21. If you can keep from preaching, do it.

22. The pastor is just as responsible for the doctrine being taught from the choir loft as he is for the doctrine being taught from the pulpit.

23. Congregational leaders who view their role as representing the members will be a problem.

24. There are no better minds, only better libraries.

25. Be a friend to other pastors and preachers, even if they are not friends to you.

26. Strive to make it easier for the next guy who comes to pastor that comes to pastor the church than when it was when you arrived.

27. You will only get what you negotiate, not what you deserve.

28. If they don’t trust you, you can’t lead them.

29. View pastoral ministry as a marathon, not a sprint.

30. Never buy the lie that the church will not survive if you are not there.

31. If you guard your character, your reputation will take care of itself.

32. Beware. People who loved you when you first arrived may change their minds. Don’t panic. People who dislike you when you arrive may also change their minds.

33. Don’t be impressed by titles, degrees, and accomplishments. People are people.

34. Make friends with books. They will never leave you nor forsake you.

35. Do not read anonymous mail or unsigned letters.

36. Learn to live with criticism.

37. You cannot lead people and need people at the same time.

38. God’s timing is perfect.

39. Every pastor needs a lover. Just make sure it’s your wife!

40. Never let anyone make you act like you don’t know Jesus.

41. A bow that is always bent will soon break.

42. Never give up on anybody.

43. Pastoral loneliness goes with the territory. If you cannot take it, you won’t last in the ministry.

44. Our goal in preaching should be to light a torch, not fill up a bucket.

45. The shepherd knew that one of his ninety-nine sheep was missing because he counted!

46. Some hurtful people are not intentionally mean. They are just thoughtless.

47. Comparison breeds contentment, damages relationships, and clouds vision.

48. Do not put a price tag on your ministry.

49. The one who is given the responsibility should also be given the authority.

50. Just because that person is talent, gives a lot of money, or has been a member a long time does not mean that person should be a leader in the church.

51. Aaron was more “spiritual” than Moses. And Joshua was a better leader. But the Lord put the rod in Moses’ hand.

52. Disgruntled members will not have an opportunity to get a foothold without linking their cause to weak leaders in the church.

53. Pastors often spend more time in conflict resolution than in prayer and the ministry of the world.

54. Put first what God tells you to put first when he tells you to put it first (Matt. 6:33).

55. Every pastor needs a pastor.

56. Do not make important decisions when you are tired or angry or hurt.

57. It is better to present your wife as your wife rather than “the first lady.”

58. Most of the theories in church growth books are wrong.

59. People do not give to needs. They give to vision.

60. Excellence is in the details.

61. The power is in the pulpit. Change does not happen by your shrewd leadership. It happens by faithfully preaching the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

62. If you do not control your time, someone else will. And they most likely do not share your priorities.

63. Closing the back door may be more important the opening up the front door.

64. The attempt to micromanage a growing congregation will lead to moral failure, burnout, or unnecessary division.

65. Avoid hero worship. Everyone God uses is a jerk and a sinner.

66. Long naps are a key strategy for spiritual warfare.

67. Powerful and important theology is communicated by simply being there with and for your people.

68. The person who has to announce that he is charge, really isn’t.

69. Write everything down. Your memory is not that good.

70. It is better to work smarter than to work harder (Eccl. 10:10).

71. Stingy pastors will never produce generous members.

72. Work hard to get the right players on the team so will not have to work hard to get the wrong players off the team.

73. Many pastors feel overworked. Many church members feel pastors do not really work.

74. Constantly look for ways to make Baptism and the Lord’s Supper special events in the life of the church.

75. Preach to an audience of one.

76. When you leave a church, leave! Do not meddle in the next pastor’s business.

77. You cannot get to second base and keep your foot on first base at the same time. Progress requires taking risks.

78. Do not be afraid to repeat sermon material. Most of your members do not remember what you said. And those who do still need to be reminded.

79. When a member brings you a complaint against another member, ask, “Have you talked to that person about this?” If they have not, refuse to listen to them.

80. When you staff does succeeds, give them credit. When they fail, take the blame.

81. The fact that the attendance is increasing does not mean that the giving will increase.

82. Avoid being the hero in your sermon illustrations.

83. You need to worship just as much as the congregation does. Do not miss the opportunity to worship by going over your sermon. Worship!

84. The command to “do the work of an evangelist” was given to a pastor.

85. Your wife and children are your most important church members.

86. The difference between good preachers and average preachers is that good preachers stay in the study until the hard work is done.

87. Fight for your convictions. Do not fight over methodologies.

88. A cynical preacher is an oxymoron.

89. Do not plagiarize the Holy Spirit by taking credit for things the Lord has done.

90. Dig your own wells so you will not have to steal other people’s water.

91. Do not feel that you have to reinvent the wheel. Learn from others. And implement what is helpful and applicable to your situation.

92. Sermons don’t grow in trees.

93. God raises up all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people. Your church will not fit everyone.

94. People say no to what is confusing.

95. Short-term missions should have long-term goals.

96. Tradition can be good. Traditionalism never is.

97. Constantly try things that are so great that you are doomed to fail without God’s help.

98. People give to the church out of five different “pockets”: general fund, building fund, Missions, designated-giving,

99. Never refuse any resignations. Ever!

100. Don’t take it personal. Even when it’s personal… don’t take it personal.

101. It is your job to fill the pulpit. It is God’s job to fill the pew.

102. Make haste slowly.

103. If you can explain what’s going on, God didn’t do it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 11/20/11

We have a blessed day of worship yesterday at Shiloh.

Thanks to all our volunteers who served in any way over the course of the weekend. You make is happen!

We distributed our 2011 Annual Report to the church yesterday. It was our first time undertaking something so detailed. I pray it will be received well by the congregation.

We did “Blessed Assurance” corporately. I love that hymn!

As always, I am grateful for the guests who were with us in worship.

I preached from Psalm 46. I entitled the message, “A Safe Place in God.”

The point of the message: The only safe place in the world is in God alone.

Here is the outline:

I. There is safety in the power of God (46:1-3)
II. There is safety in the presence of God (46:4-7)
III. There is safety in the purpose of God (46:8-11)

I had a great quote from Martin Luther that I did not actually say in either service. So I’ll share it here: “We sing this psalm to the praise of God, because God is with us, and powerfully and miraculously preserves and defends his church and his world, against all fanatical spirits, against the gates of hell, against the implacable hatred of the devil, and against the assaults of the world, the flesh and sin.”

I think Psalm 46 is one of the most famous psalms that most people do not actually know. We know verses 1 and 10 and that’s about it. But the entire psalm is remarkably comforting and encouraging.

I was behind in my studies last week. And I determined Saturday afternoon that I would safe Psalm 46 for another time. But the Lord made me press through. I am glad I obeyed.

I was not feeling well yesterday. I am grateful the Lord gave me strength to preach.

You would be surprised by the mental distractions I have to preach through yesterday.

Can’t wait to preach Psalm 46 again.

Praise God for those who were saved and added to the church yesterday.

The Dallas Cowboys defeated their division rivals the Washington Redskins yesterday in overtime, 27-24.

The Jags lost to the Cleveland Browns, 14-10. No good.

Would someone please beat the Green Bay Packers! Please!

The BCS is a mess with all of the upsets this weekend in college football. And I love it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Notes from 3rd Pastoral Celebration (11/13/11)

Yesterday we celebrated three years the Lord has blessed us to serve him together as pastor and people at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church.

What a church!!!

Either time flies by or I am getting older. Or both.

Wednesday evening, Pastor George Hurtt of the Mt. Sinai Baptist Church of Los Angeles was our guest speaker. He kicked off the celebration in a great way with a message from Psalm 23:2.

Yesterday, our guest was Pastor Romell Williams, who leads the Lilydale Baptist Church in Chicago. He preached from Matthew 20:1-16 and 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. They were both solid messages.

It was good to have a Sunday off from preaching. The bow that is always bent will inevitably break.

My daughter, Natalie, led a song with the children choir during our 10:15 service. If she would have sung another verse, I would have completely fallen apart .

Maurice Griffin was our guest soloist this weekend. He did an excellent job, as usual.

I was greatly encouraged by every expression of love, kindness and support the members of Shiloh showed my and my family. I am blessed to serve a great people. I am grateful for the privilege and thankful for the all the Lord is doing in us and through us.

In the afternoon, our choir was in full concert. It was a moving time of worship and praise.

I even sang a little with the choir!

I am scheduled to preach today at the Southern Baptist Convention of Texas that is meeting in Irving (Dallas) this week.

I missed my flight last night. And, of course, it was the last flight of the evening.

Crystal found me an early morning flight to Dallas, while I slept.

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…”

Please pray for me as I minister the word today.

Speaking of Dallas, the Cowboys put a whippin’ on the Buffalo Bills 44-7.

The Jags defeated the hapless Colts 17-3.

Saturday, the USC Trojans beat down the Washington Huskies 40-17.

I slept through the Pacquiao-Marquez fight Saturday night. From all reports, I did not miss anything.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 11/6/11

Good day of worship yesterday.

The congregation sung “Holy, Holy, Holy” as our hymn for the day. Wonderful.

We celebrated the Lord’s Table yesterday, as is our custom on 1st Sundays. Always a great time of worship and fellowship.

We sung “Father I Stretch My Hands to Thee” during Communion. I learned a new verse to this hymn in Pensacola last week. I really like it. It says…

“I do believe, I now believe
That Jesus died for me
And by his blood, his precious blood
I shall from sin be free.”

Grateful, as always, for the guests who were in worship with us.

Ray Scott song “A Heart that Forgives” as a song of preparation. It is a beautiful song. Ray did a great job. Very moving… and convicting.

I preached on prayer from Matthew 7:7-11. I called it “Why You Should Pray About It.”

In Matthew 7:7-11, Jesus gives two reasons why we should pray:

1. Pray in obedience to the command of God (7:7-8).
2. Pray with confidence in the goodness of God (7:9-11).

I have been meditating on prayer all last week. I was really eager to preach on prayer Sunday. I hope the message helpful.

Ask me how my day went yesterday. Answer: The battery on the microphone I was preaching from yesterday died as I was beginning my final point.

Praise God for those who were added to the church.

I will not be preaching this week, for the first time in a long time.

This week we will celebrate three years as pastor and people at the Shiloh Church. Guest speakers are scheduled for both Wednesday night and Sunday morning.

I had a really quiet evening with the family. Nothing better.

USC bounced back this weekend with a great win over Colorado 42-17. We need Matthew Barkley to remain with the Trojans for another year!

For the record, the LSU/Alabama game did not live up to the hype. I expected Alabama to win. Wrong again.

Saw one of the best boxing matches Saturday night that I have seen in a long time. Unfortunately, I do not know either guy’s name.

The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Seattle Seahawks 23-13. I am sorry that Coach Pete Carroll keeps losing. But I am glad that the Cowboys won.

The Jacksonville Jaguars did not lose yesterday!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 10/30/11

Today was a good day of worship at the Shiloh Church.

5th Sundays are like a box of chocolates…

I led a questions and answers session with my New Members Class today. They had some provocative questions.

Thanks to all of our volunteers. You make it happen!

Today is Reformation Sunday. We introduced it with a brief video clip about Martin Luther and the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Wish we could have just shown the whole video!

We sang, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” It was a new hymn to many. But it was great to hear the voices of the saints lifted in praise to God.

We featured the local work of One Church, One Child is our services today. The representative left with a page of names of interested persons and families. May the Lord grant that families in our church will take on the great step of adoption.

Our Fighter Verse(s) this week was Proverbs 3:5-7. I memorized verses 5-6.

Our Women’s Chorus led the special music today. Sis. Letson led a song entitled “Safety.” It was wonderful.

I preached from Job 1:20-22: “The Test of True Worship.”

I endeavored to make three points about true worship from the text:

1. True worship is a choice (v. 20).
2. True worship is the result of an eternal perspective on life (v. 21).
3. True worship requires stubborn faith (v. 22).

I planned to preach something else today. But beggars can’t be choosers.

I am glad I preached what I was lead to preach.

Praise God for those who were added to the church today.

I met a new member that joined our church today as a result of the witness of one of our men. Very encouraging.

After church, I drove to Orlando with Crystal to pick up the kids who spent the weekend with the Washington family.

I drove back. I got my second speeding ticket in two weeks. I repent. (Can I repent and blame Crystal at the same time?)

I could not find my driver’s license. I found it when I got home… in my pocket!!!

The USC Trojans lost in a thriller to Stanford Saturday night.

The Jaguars lost to the Texans 14-24. We are not 2-5 for the season.
The Cowboys are presently losing to the Eagles 0-21. I probably will be sleep by the time this game is over. But this does not look good.

I am heading to Pensacola Monday morning to preach their citywide revival. Please remember this meeting in your prayers.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 10/23/11

We had a blessed time of worship yesterday at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church.

Thanks to all of our volunteers for your service yesterday. You make it happen!

Our ensemble, Forgiven, led the musical praise yesterday and did a wonderful job. It was a good time of worship.

We had a great Fighter Verse this week – Proverbs 1:10: “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” This weeks verse(s) is Proverbs 3:5-6.

Grateful for all the guests who were in worship with us yesterday.

The world famous BrothaRollins was in the house!

I met a family from Canada after the last service. They are in town visiting their son who is here in school. They saw our TV broadcast and decided they wanted to go to church. They got lost and passed by our church. The wife suggested that they come here. They walked in and saw me standing there preaching and were so excited. Way cool.

I preached my final stewardship message for the month. My text was Proverbs 3:9-10. I called it “Godly Wisdom for Money Management.”

The point of the message: The way to make your money work for you is to make sure you money works for God.

I have really enjoyed preaching on Christian stewardship and generosity this month. I am also glad that I am done with this series.

I am still having trouble setting my work to memory. This has been going on for a few weeks now. I think I need a mental break. It is coming soon.

Praise God for those who were added to the church yesterday.

Next Sunday I intend to preach on the mission of the church from Acts 1:6-11.

Last night, I spoke that the chapel service for the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a great time in the word with the brothers. Grateful to the Jags chaplain, Anthony Johnson, for the opportunity.

What do you think is going to happen when the Jags take on the Ravens on MNF tonight?

The Dallas Cowboys beat the St. Louis Rams 34-7 to go 3-3 for the season.

Before I fell asleep last night, I saw the replay of the Bernard Hopkins/Chad Dawson from a week ago. All I can say is that I am so glad that I did not waste my money ordering that fight.

The USC Trojans defeated Notre Dame 31-17 Saturday night!!!

I hear there is a pretty good World Series going on. Not watching. Sorry.

Does anyone care that the NBA is still locked out and cancelling games?

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 10/02/11

This past week we hosted our first Fall Church institute at Shiloh. It was a great week of study, worship, and fellowship. I have received many good reports on the classes. And Pastor John Adolph ministered the word in a strong way each night. Praise God for blessing this step of faith!

Today was a good day of worship.

I enjoyed teaching my New Members Class today. I have been out for a few weeks. Glad to be back at it.

It was a great joy to lead the congregation in corporate praise to God.

We celebrated the Lord’s Table in both of our services today, which is always a special time in corporate worship.

Grateful for all the guests who joined us in worship today.

I preached a message from Mark 12:41-44 that I entitled “How the Lord Counts Your Offering.”

The point of today’s message what this: The motives of the giver is always more valuable to the Lord than the amount of the gift.

I endeavored to show the church three ways the Lord counts our offerings that go beyond the amount of the gift:

1. The Lord counts your offering by the commitment it declares.
2. The Lord counts your offering by the cost it demands.
3. The Lord counts your offering by the confidence it demonstrates.

Today was the first time I have preached about giving in more than a year. I felt the weight of the message as I preached. But I was very nervous about preaching about money.

I may swap out this week’s sermon for the one I plan to preach on the fourth Sunday. Stay tuned. And pray for my studies this week.

Praise God for those who were saved and added to the church today.

We were scheduled to worship with the Abyssinia Baptist Church this afternoon in celebration of Pastor Eugene Diamond’s pastoral anniversary. However, Pastor Diamond’s went home to be with the Lord this weekend. And the service was cancelled. Please remember the Diamond family and the Abyssinia congregation in your prayers.

My wife’s cousin also passed away this weekend in Seattle, WA. Please remember my family in your prayers this week. And pray for Crystal as she plans to travel to Seattle for the funeral.

The USC Trojans beat Arizona in a shoot-out 48-41.

The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Detroit Lions (30-34) thanks to the assistance of quarterback Tony Romo.

The Saints defeated the Jaguars this afternoon 23-10.

Apple is scheduled to announce the new iPhone this coming Tuesday. Be there!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SMBC Fall Church Institute

Today begins our first Fall Church Institute at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church.

The Church Institute will be three nights (Sept. 27-29) or Bible preaching and teaching, corporate worship, and spiritual renewal.

At 6 PM, there will be classes on various aspects of Christian discipleship, which will include classes for children, youth, young adults, singles, men, women, and financial stewardship. Several local pastors and professors will lead classes on Church History, and Old and New Testaments surveys.

At 7 PM, there will be a time of corporate worship. Our guest speaker will be the Dr. John Adolph of the Antioch Baptist Church of Beaumont, TX. Pastor Adolph was one of our guest speakers for our Wednesdays in the Word in February 2010. The Lord used him in a great way to bless and encourage our congregation. We trust that the Lord will use him over these three nights to minister the word.

Maurice Griffin from Chicago will be our guest soloist each night. Maurice was a contestant on BET’s Sunday’s Best competition. I did not hear him on the show, which I do not watch! But I had the privilege of hearing this young man at a conference in Dallas this past summer. And I was blessed by the two occasions I had to hear him sing. I am glad to have him as our guest.

I am really looking forward to these three nights. And I pray that our congregation will be enriched and edified by the ministry of the word.

Please cover these nights in believing prayer.

If you are able to attend, please join us for study and worship. If not, you can catch a live stream of the service through our website at

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 09/11/11

It was a long but good day.

I praise God for all that he is doing in and through the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church!

Throughout the day, my thoughts have drifted back to the tragedy that took place 10 years ago today. Remembering. Grieving. Praying.

I had just fallen to sleep after finishing a sermon for a special prayer meeting we were to have that night. I was knocked-out on the coach. The phone kept ringing. It was my mom, calling to tell me to turn on the TV. Do you remember where you were when you heard the news that our nation was under attack?

For the record, I am proud to be an American!!!

During our Bible Study Fellowship hour we have a rally to introduce to new groups and pray for our new teachers.

Today’s Fighter Verse was 2 Corinthians 9:6-7. It was a good start to our new corporate Scripture memorization system. Next week’s verse is 2 Corinthians 9:8.

Grateful for all the guests in worship with us today.

Praise God for the one who was baptized today.

Our opening hymn was great today! I love hymns!

Our children’s choir sung today. It was the first time they have sung in several months. They did a good job, as usual.

The choir sung Richard Smallwood’s new song, “Trust Me,” before the message. It is a beautiful song.

I began a three-part series that I am calling “Real Church.” I preached today on “Real Worship” from John 4:19-24.

I strived to make the point that real worship is about God and not about you!

I preached all day with a sore throat. But his grace is sufficient and his strength is perfected in my weakness.

I plan to preach next Sunday on “Real Change” from 2 Timothy 3:14-17.

Praise God for those who were saved and added to the church today.

My family and I went to the Jaguars home opener this afternoon. The Jags beat the Tennessee Titans 16-14.

It was so unbelievably hot that I felt I was going to melt right in my seat.

The halftime tribute to the 9/11 victims, families, and first responders was moving and beautiful.

I am so glad that football is back!

I cannot believe the beat down the Indianapolis Colts received today without Payton Manning.

I am disappointed that Serena Williams lost in the US Open Finals today.

The Dallas Cowboys gave us a 4th quarter lead to lose to the New York Jets tonight. This is not the way we were supposed to start the season.

The USC Trojans defeated Utah 24-13 this weekend. You can put us on probation. But you cannot keep us down. Go Trojans!!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

From HBC2 to SMBC (09/07/11)

Good day, Shiloh family members.

Hope you are having a good week so far.

Here are several updates for this week that I want you to be aware of.

Midday Bible Study. Today begins our new Midday Bible Study, which will be led by Pastor Brodes C Perry. It starts at noon and will last for one hour. The study will be through “The Journey of a Lifetime,” a yearlong survey through the entire Bible. Pray for this meeting. Come out and participate, if you are able.

Midweek Worship Service. Tonight, I plan to continue our material on “How to Study the Bible for Yourself.” I hope to finish the material tonight. But, we’ll see.

Men’s Prayer Breakfast. Our Men’s Prayer Breakfast will meet this Saturday from 9-10 AM. We will share a meal together and then hear the word explained. I plan to teach this Saturday. I look forward to seeing our brothers out for this great time of learning and fellowship.

Fighter Verses. Our memory verse(s) for this week is 2 Corinthians 9:6-7. We will quote it in worship together Sunday in both of our services. Praying for you as as you follow through your commitment to memorize scripture.

Real Church. This Sunday, I plan to begin a new, 3-part series entitled, “Real Church.” Sunday’s message will be on “Real Worship” from John 4:19-24. Invite a friend to join you for worship.

Back to Church Sunday. September 18 is National Back to Church Sunday. Invite an unsaved or unchurched person to worship with you in one of our services.

MADD Reloaded. Our Make a Difference Day Reloaded will take place on Saturday, September 24. Check in with your ministry or district leaders to find out how you can participate in blitzing our community with acts of love.

Fall Church Institute. Remember that our first Fall Church Institute will take place September 27-29. There will be discipleship classes available each night at 6 PM. Then there will be a time of corporate worship at 7 PM. Dr. John R. Adolph of the Antioch Baptist Church in Beaumont, TX. You do not want to miss one night of this great meeting!

This is a busy month. Please cover these events in believing prayer. Be marked present. And invite someone to join you for worship.

God bless,


Sunday, September 04, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 09/04/11

What a great day of worship at Shiloh!

I love the Lord Jesus Christ! I love the word of God! And I love the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church!

I led a Q&A session during our Bible Study Fellowship hour today. I had a great time teaching my congregation in dialogue.

We had a special time of worship and fellowship during our Lord’s Supper observance today.

I am grateful for all of the guests who were in worship with us today, including friends from Detroit and the Williams family reunion.

God be praised for all our volunteers who served today.

The choir sung one of my throwback favorites – God Will Take Care Of You (by Edwin Hawkins).

I initiated a corporate scripture memorization program for our church today. We will use the Fighter Verses established by the Bethlehem Baptist Church of Minneapolis. I pray the Lord uses our commitment to memorize scripture to cause us to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I preached on “Spiritual Warfare through Scripture Memorization,” using Ephesians 6:17b as by base scripture.

I gave the church five basic reasons why we should practice the spiritual discipline of scripture memorization:

1. It will draw you closer to God.
2. It will lead you to spiritual victory.
3. It will strengthen your prayer life.
4. It will make you a better witness for Christ.
5. It will equip you to minister to others.

Pulpit monitors: 2 – HBC2: 0. The loser gets a sore throat.

Praise God for those who were saved and added to the church in our worship services today.

I plan to begin a new series next week that I will call “Real Church.” The first message will be on “Real Worship” from John 4:21-24.

The college football system began with a bang this weekend. USC defeated Minnesota 19-17. You can unfairly sanction us, but you cannot keep the Trojans down!

Happy Labor Day! Be safe. Have fun. God bless.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

On Memorizing Scripture

He was in the wilderness. He was exhausted. He was hungry and thirsty. He was alone. He was attacked by the Devil. He was armed with the word of God. He was victorious. With confidence in the sacred scriptures, Jesus prevailed against the tempter's deceitful schemes (see Matt. 4:1-11). The Lord defeated Satan with three verses from Deuteronomy. How much more can you and I resist temptation, live obediently, and endure hardship if we get the word of God into our hearts and minds through scripture memorization?

There are very few spiritual disciples that are more beneficial than scripture memorization. It arms you with truth to resist temptation. It renews your mind as you meditate on scripture. It shapes and strengthens your prayer life, enabling you to pray the scriptures back to God. It makes the wisdom of God readily available for decision-making. It arms you with biblical authority for counseling fellow-believers or witnessing to lost people. It gives comfort in times of grief, sorrow, and persecution. And it fills your mind and mouth with truth to offer as grateful praise to God in worship.

Here are seven steps you can take to begin and stay on track down the narrow but life-giving path of scripture memorization.

1. Have a plan. When left alone, good intentions suffocate spiritual progress. Godly desires must have the fresh air of practical commitments in order to breathe and live and grow. So establish a definite plan for scripture memorization - a plan that works for you. Decide when you will do it. Select what verses you are going to memorize. Have a plan and establish measurable, challenging, attainable goals.

2. Start small. Don't begin by telling yourself that you are going to memorize a chapter a week. No you’re not. And your failure will only discourage you in the future. Remember, each victory will help you another to win. So start small and build on your successes. One or two verses a week is a good place to begin.

3. Select verses that are meaningful to you. The Bible is filled with hundreds of verses worth memorizing. Many profitable Bible memory systems are also available. And pastors and teachers may encourage you to memorize certain passages. Draw from all of these sources for ideas. But also select your own memory verses. Choose passages that are meaningful to you and that you find helpful.

4. Make memory cards to keep with you. Write out the verse on a card that you can take wherever you go. And when you have spare moments – on a break, in a waiting room, or between activities – you can read, review, and recite your memory verses.

5. Get a Bible memory partner. Do you have a prayer partner? If not, you should. A good prayer partner can give you support, hold you accountable, and celebrate victories with you. A good Bible memorization partner can do the same. Iron sharpens iron. So consider partnering with someone for mutual support in memorizing scripture.

6. Keep practicing your verses. Scripture memorization does not come easy for most of us. But don’t be too quick to blame it on a poor memory. Scripture memorization is spiritual warfare. But our spiritual enemy cannot prevail against the word of God. So keep practicing your verses until you get them down. Then constantly review them. Remember, repetition is the key to memorization.

7. Pray for God’s help. Do you fear that you cannot memorize scripture? Tell God about your fears. Do you need strength to remain focused? Ask the Lord for it. Do you need wisdom for selecting verses or managing your quiet time? Pray with confidence for these things. God is glorified as you learn to think and behave biblically. So labor and pray and trust the Lord to help you to make the word a treasure in your heart, so that you might not sin against him (Ps. 119:11).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Notes from Sunday - England Edition

I am writing these words from London, where it is Monday morning. When I finish typing this post, I will help to the airport for my flight home.

I had a great day of worship with the Loughborough Baptist Church in Loughborough. The city is about an hour’s train ride outside of London.

Saturday evening, I stayed with Michael and Katie in their home. Michael is the secretary for the church.

Michael and Katie were wonderful hosts. They have been married for 47 years, having met at a Christian youth camp. I enjoyed the conversation.

Michael and Katie were shocked that I did not use milk in my tea. I was equally shocked that they did.

Their home was built in 1740. Of course, it has been fully refurbished. It was beautiful.

Across the street from their home was a sign commemorating the fact that John Wesley had preached in that stop from his horse. Way cool.

Gert Sassius is the pastor of the Loughborough congregation, where he has only served for nine months. But the congregation is very excited about the prospects for the future under its new pastor.

Several members of the congregation had watched the streaming of our services at Shiloh over the past several weeks. So they had a sense of what to expect from my preaching.

When I asked how long I should preach, the answered was, “It is not for me to say. We are here to hear the word of God. It is not our place to say how long or short the ministry of the word should be.” The best answer to that question I have every heard!

I preached from Psalm 23, hoping I would be able to connect through a familiar passage. My exposition of the passage seemed to be received well.

I quoted Charles Haddon Spurgeon and John R.W. Stott – two famous English pastors/preachers – in the introduction. The congregation smiled.

Though very quiet during the sermon, the members were eager to share with me how they were helped by the message after the service was over. There were many specific references to thoughts in the message. It was obvious they were listening well.

There was no choir. Only congregational singing. Rich hymns. It was great!

There was no invitation to discipleship extended in the service, even though the church obviously has a commitment to evangelism. I did not ask by what means new members are received into the church.

They thought it was novel that we have Sunday school for adults, as well as children.

The congregation has a pipe organ that was donated to the church by Dale Carnegie in 1908. The congregation celebrated its centennial in 2008.

Several members expressed how troubled they were by the riots that had been taking place in London. Different perspectives; mutual concern.

I really missed being with my congregation today. It was the first Sunday I have not been at Shiloh all year.

Brodes Perry preached at Shiloh on “Friends Don’t Let Friends Die Lost” (Mark 2:1-11).

Over the evening, I received several reports about how great the service was. Praise God!

I met up with several colleagues here who had preached in different places. All seemed to have had a good experience. Very encouraging.

Ready to go home.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Unique Preaching Opportunity

I am writing this post from London. The Proclaimer’s Place preaching conference in Oxford ended yesterday. Part of the conference this year a festival of African-American preaching, in which preachers from the conference have been assigned to preach in local Baptist churches in the area.

It will be my privilege to preach in the morning at the Loughborough Baptist Church in Loughborough, where Michael Tebbatt is the pastor. It is about 150 miles away from where I am presently. So I will be taking the train there soon to preach in the morning.

Please remember me in prayer as I prepare for this unique preaching opportunity. Likewise, this is will really be the first time I have travelled here by myself. And I am chronically “directionally challenged.” This should be interesting.

Over the past day or so, we have traveled freely around London. But we have not encountered any of the riots firsthand. However, there are constant reports and warnings about the riots breaking out in different places. And there is some obvious level of anxiety in some places.

Please pray for this city. And thanks for your prayers for our safety.

I cannot wait to go home!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Proclaimer's Place 2011

I am in Oxford, England, participating in the Proclaimer’s Place, led by Dr. Joel C. Gregory. It is four days of study for preaching, with about twenty-five ministers from around the United States participating.

Each day, we take a text of scripture and study it together, with a view toward preaching. Yesterday, we studied Exodus 13-17-22. Today we will study 1 Thessalonians 2:1-11. Malachi 3 and Luke 1 will follow in the days to come.

I am being refreshed by the study and the fellowship.

In baseball, hitters take batting practice and constantly work on their swing. The same is true in golf. Unfortunately, preachers can go to the pulpit week after week, without taking time to work on our swing, so to speak. So I am finding this time to be very refreshing.

As you can imagine, my body is in Oxford. But it is still acting like it is in Jacksonville. All of my patterns are thrown off.

If you have watched the news, you know that there are riots in London. I am not scheduled to be there until this weekend. I pray things will quiet down before then. Last night, we received warnings that there may be riots here in Oxford. But that really did not come to pass.

Thanks for all your prayers.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 08/07/11

What a great day of worship today at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville!

I had a good time teaching my new members class today. I have “ditched” teaching the past few weeks. It was great to get back into the saddle.

It was our privilege to deliberately remember the Lord Jesus Christ through the celebration of the Lord’s Table today.

I led the corporate singing in our services today. We sung “Glory to His Name” and “There is a Fountain.” Two of my favorite Communion hymns!

As always, grateful for all of our guests who joined us in worship today.

The choir sung one of my favorite songs – “I’m Encouraged,” by the late Thomas Whitfield. I would have loved to get me some of that song. But it would have only made it harder for me to preach. Next time!

I concluded my three-part series on 1 Peter 1:3-9 that I called “Real Hope for Difficult Times.”

Today’s message was on 1 Peter 1:8-9: “The Believer’s View of the Unseen Christ.”

I outlined for marks of a true relationship with Jesus Christ:

1. Personal devotion: “Though you have not seen him, you love him.” (v. 8)
2. Abiding trust: “Though you do not now see him, you believe in him…” (v. 8)
3. Abundant joy: “and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (v. 8)
4. Confident assurance: “obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (v. 9)

I have really enjoyed preaching through this section at 1 Peter. I am tempted to go just keep going in 1 Peter. But I will resist that temptation. Other subjects beckon me.

And I really, really enjoy preaching to my congregation. What a church!

Praise God for those who were saved and added to the church in our worship services today!

I regularly pray for members after the services. It was so encouraging to have members praying for me today.

I was basically on my feet on morning long. Thank God for granting me physical strength and physical energy today.

Just think, our Sunday afternoons will be soon filled by National Football League. How ‘bout those Cowboys?!?!

I am writing these notes from the JAX airport. I am on my way to Oxford, England, for the Proclaimer’s Place preaching conference. And I am scheduled to preach in London next weekend. Please pray for my travels. And remember my family and church in your prayers.

As I was writing this, they just updated my flight information. My flight to Dallas is now one hour and ten minutes late. It will be interesting to day if I make my connecting flight to London.

Pray saints!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Reflections on Preaching through the Epistle of James

Several weeks ago, I completed a verse-by-verse exposition of the Epistle of James for my congregation at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church. My faith was enriched by this personal study. And I trust my congregation was built up in their faith, as a result of hearing these messages.

I have been thinking about this series over the past several days - not necessarily the spiritual experience of studying James, but the practicalities of preaching through it. Here are some of my reflections.

Why James? I love the Epistle of James. I think it is James’ “in your face” style of writing that endeavors me to this letter. I have read it countless times devotionally. I have memorized sections of it. And I have preached several messages from it over the years, mostly from chapter 1. But I had never done a complete study of James. Likewise, I find portions of James challenging – both spiritually and homiletically. So I wanted to take up the challenge. And, above all, I believe that it would be a good study for our congregation. That belief proved true.

Preaching long sermon series. I was recently in a setting where the argument was being made that people will not listen to long sermon series anymore. When the discussion got to me, I admitted that I was preparing to preach my final sermon in James. It would be twenty-second sermon!

The prevailing notion is that a sermon series should be between 4-6 messages, no longer than 8. But many of my preaching heroes are men who preach long series, consecutively through books of the Bible. Rather treating this idea of short series as an inviolable law, I think it should be emphasized people adapt to what you feed them. I am grateful to serve a church that is willing to endure long series through Bible books.

Stop-and-go through James. If I had followed my schedule, I would have completed James months ago. But toward the end of 2010 and in the beginning of 2011 I found myself facing congregational pressures. With God’s help, I was able to preach each week. But, admittedly, it was all I could do to drag myself to the pulpit. Some weeks I pulled a file of sermon I had preached before. Other weeks I preached from passages that I found encouraging. But many of those weeks I just did not feel like talking about faith without works is dead. Or the power of the tongue. Of whatever was next in James. So I worked through James in fits and starts. But the congregation was very patient and understanding through this. Only once did anyone say anything to me about abandoning James. I was preaching through a storm. And the congregation did not mind what I was preaching, as long as it was the word of God. Praise God!

Technical difficulties. I read several solid introductions to James before I began my studies. But they did not prepare me for the textual difficulties I encountered. Many weeks, I would be faced with challenges in the Greek over which the scholars sharply disagreed. And I would have to make an interpretative judgment call. This forced me to prayerfully work through the texts with my thinking cap pulled down tightly on my head. Of course, I tried not to bring these matters to the pulpit. I believe that the sermon should reflect the fruit of your studies more than the process of it. So I did not share most of these challenges with the congregation. But being forced to consider them stretched me. Difficult texts make strong preachers!

My favorite commentaries on James. I have collected quite of few commentaries on James over the years. And I picked up a few more before I started my study. And a few more over the course of my study. My favorite, above all, is D. Edmond Hiebert’s commentary on James (Moody). It is everything a commentary should be. I also appreciated Peter’s David’s commentary. I surprised myself by using the NIV Application Commentary by David P. Nystrom throughout the study. I consulted Ralph Martin’s well-respected commentary on James. But it was not one of my favorites.

I read the Holman NT Commentary religiously each week. And, of course, I read John MacArthur and R Kent Hughes and Warren Wiersbe every week. They are old friends. I had to consider what they thought about the text. I likewise listened to audio messages by Kent Hughes, John MacArthur, Gary Inrig, and Alistair Begg each week. I also read some popular works on James by O.S. Hawkins, David Jeremiah, Tony Evans, and Joel Gregory. I found them all useful in seeing how preachers handled the texts of James.

A lot of weeks I kept reading late into the week, when I should have stopped and started writing the sermon. And it put me behind in my sermon preparation. I think this hurt the quality of some of the sermons. But at least I knew the text well.

Texts I enjoyed preaching. I enjoyed studying and preaching every text of James. Really. By the time I got out of chapter 1, I was convinced that no matter how difficult the text seemed at first glance, it would yield great treasures. I was not disappointed once. And it just got better as the study progressed. I praise the Lord for James and for the privilege of spending months immersing myself in its message.

The Lord be praised for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 07/31/11

Saturday morning, I taught a seminar at our church on “How to Study the Bible for Yourself.” It was well attended. And it was great to see the enthusiasm of the members about study the word of God. In typical H.B. fashion, we did not complete half of the twenty pages of notes I prepared. So we will plan a follow session for sometime soon.

My family returned home from Los Angeles Saturday afternoon. Yes! The suicide watch is over. Thanks for your prayers.

We had a great day of worship at Shiloh yesterday.

Our Men’s Chorus led the music in both services. It was great to have our men leading in worship.

Our Bible Study Fellowship group meets did not meet yesterday. During our BSF hour, we have a mass baptism service.

I actually got in the water, for the first time in at least 15 years. Or more.

We baptized more than 40 new members.

It was my great privilege to baptize my two oldest children – H.B. & Natalie. I praise the Lord that my children have made a profession of faith in Christ. And it was a speechless privilege to baptize them this morning.

I could not help but think today about the day my father baptized me, when I was six years old. I remember my baptism and am grateful to God for saving me.

Shout out to Pastor Mike Rodgers for his assistance during the baptisms. I am not sure I would have been able to do it alone.

As always, I am grateful for the guests who were with us in worship. There was a special group that joined us from Savannah. I am glad they chose to worship with us and pray they were blessed.

I continued a brief, three-part series on 1 Peter 1:3-9 that I am called, “Real Hope for Difficult Times.”

I preached from 1 Peter 1:6-7: “The Truth About Your Trials.”

I sought to make five points about the trials of life we face as Christians:

1. The proper response to your trials (1:6a)
2. The limited duration of your trials (1:6b)
3. The spiritual necessity of your trials (1:6c)
4. The painful reality of your trials (1:6d)
5. The intended results of your trials (1:7)

It is not often that I attempt to a five-point outline, for obvious reasons. I have enough trouble as it is preaching a three-point outline in a reasonable amount of time.

I am preaching this series out of my pastoral desire to say something encouraging to my congregation. I pray that these messages have been comforting and encouraging so far.

Next week’s sermon: “The Believer’s View of the Unseen Christ” (1 Peter 1:8-9).

Praise God for those who were saved and added to the church in our services today.

Slow afternoon. Really slow afternoon. No complaints. Needed the rest.

Breaking News: Football is back!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 07/24/11

It was a long week. Followed by a long weekend.

I preach for our district association Friday afternoon, which met at our church for its Congress of Christian Education. And I preached Saturday afternoon for the national convention of the Church of the Living God that was meeting in Jacksonville this past week.

Have sermon, will travel.

It was a great day of worship at the Shiloh Church today.

Our ensemble, “Forgiven,” led the music in both of our services. They did a good job, as usual.

Grateful for the guests who were in our worship services today. Several pastors from different parts of the country joined us for worship. I was encouraged by their presence.

Still praying for our members who are traveling on vacation over the summer months.

Today I began a 3-part series entitled, “Real Hope for Difficult Times” (1 Peter 1:3-9).

William Barclay began his commentary on this passage by saying: “It will take us a long time to appropriate the riches of this passage, for there are few passage in the New Testament were more of the great fundamental Christian ideas come together.” I fully agree.

I gave three reasons why we should praise God for salvation:

1. We have experience a new birth (1:3).
2. We have received a guaranteed inheritance (1:4).
3. We have obtained an eternal security (1:5).

Next Sunday’s message: “A Theology for your Trial” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

I absolutely cannot wait to get back to my pulpit next Sunday.

Praise God for those who were saved and added to this church in our worship services.

Quiet afternoon. Too quiet.

My family is still in Los Angeles. They will be home this week. Suicide watch continues…

I am scheduled to speak for Pastor Timothy Fleming at the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Atlanta this Monday through Thursday night. Please remember this meeting in your prayers.

Are you ready for some football?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Speaking @ the E.K. Bailey Expository Preaching Conference 2011

The E.K. Bailey International Conference of Expository Preaching is taking place this week in Dallas (July 11-14). It is a great week of study, fellowship, and good preaching!

The conference is named after its founder, the late Dr. E.K. Bailey, founding pastor of the Concord Church in Dallas. Dr. Bailey was a noted African-American expositor. And God used his ministry and this conference to introduce many to the principles, tools, and disciplines needed to preach what the text means by what it says.

I was drawn to expository preaching by divine conspiracy. I was hearing preachers, reading books, and having conversations that were all calling me to it. But hearing Dr. Bailey sealed the deal. I walked out of the service after hearing him for the first time and said, “That’s what I want to do.” I was not talking about his style or delivery or anything like that. I was talking about how he simply explained the meaning of the text.

This preaching conference is now lead by my friend, Pastor Bryan Carter, who now leads the Concord Church. In his capable hands, this conference continues to be a premiere meeting on biblical preaching. At the same time, Dr. Sheila Bailey leads the Stand Women’s Conference, and continues to honor the legacy of her late husband with her love for ministering to the word of God to women.

The conference kicked off last night in a great way. Dr. Michael Duduit, editor of Preaching Magazine, lectured on the conference theme – Preaching Under Pressure. It was a very thoughtful, challenging, and encouraging message. Pastor Jeffery Johnson delivered the evening message.

I am scheduled to teach on expository preaching this afternoon, teach and preach Wednesday evening, and teach and participate on in a panel discussion Thursday, along with other commitments. It will be a long week. But I am looking forward to it. May the Lord give me strength.

Crystal is here! She flew in yesterday from Los Angeles, where she and the kids are spending several weeks with family and friends. I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am to see her. When she arrived, I shaved for the first time since she left!


My brother, Pastor Kevin Willis and his wife, Linda, are here.

Four of my pastoral staff members – B. Perry, D. Beckwith, A. Robinson, and A. Letson – are here.

My pastor from Los Angeles is here. My adopted dad from Oklahoma City is here.

Several of my closest friends from around the country are here.

There are quite of few preachers from both Los Angeles and Jacksonville here.

And this all up and what you get is very little sleep for H.B. Charles, Jr. this week. But I should be a great time of fellowship.

Please remember this meeting in your prayers.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 07/10/11

What a great day of worship at Shiloh today!

We began the service this morning with several praise choruses that I really like to sing. One of them had I had been singing to myself all week. It was great to sing it together in worship with the saints.

As always, I am grateful for all of our guests in worship today.

As I sat in our second service today, I began to give thanks to God for all of the volunteers who serve in our congregation. The service of so many others make what I do possible. And I am grateful to God for all who serve.

I preached today from James 5:13-18. I entitled the message, “Handle with Prayer.”

I wrote seven pages of the manuscript. But I knew that I several pages to material in my head. So I just quit writing. I knew that I was going to go over time this morning. But there was nothing I could do about it.

There is so much in this text. But I hope that I did a fair job of keeping the main thing the main thing.

In both services, in skipped a portion of the text. And it was the same portion – the second dealing with mutual confession and prayer in verse 16a.

I spent a portion of the message dealing with “the elders of the church” (James 5:14). After the service, someone asked me about the relationship between elders and deacons. It never crossed my mind to address that. But here are my understanding of the relationship of elders and deacons in two sentences:

1. The elders serve by leading.
2. The deacons lead by serving.

I have one more passage to preach in James. I intend to conclude my study of James next Sunday with a message entitled “Rescue the Perishing” (James 5:19-20).

For the record, I love preaching to my congregation!

Praise God for those who were saved and added to the church in our services this morning.

We went home singing, “Trouble In My Way.” I don’t know what brought this old song to my mind. But I sure enjoyed singing it! Could you tell?

Our 2011 Vacation Bible School will begin tomorrow and last all (7/11-15). Please pray for our Children’s Pastor, Lucius Johnson, our staff and volunteers, and all the children who will participate in VBS this week. May they grow as Jesus grew (Luke 2:52).

Crystal and the kids are in Los Angeles with family and friends for several weeks. I have been here on suicide watch without them. Sure, I leave them to go preach all the time. But I am not used to them leaving me. Let the church say, “Spoiled!”

It’s time for the E.K. Bailey International Conference on Expository Preaching in Dallas!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 07/03/11

I had a great time teaching on the good news of Jesus Christ in my new members class.

We had many guests in worship yesterday. Grateful for it.

We had several families, celebrating their family reunions, in worship with us yesterday. It was good to host these guests. Hope they were blessed by the service.

Dr. William Lawson, founding pastor of the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston (where Dr. Marcus Cosby now serves as pastor) was in worship with us yesterday. His family was one of our special guests. It was an honor to have him worship with us.

Thinking about and praying for our members who are traveling and vacationing over the holidays. May the Lord bless them and bring them home safely.

We celebrated the Lord’s Supper in both of our services yesterday. What a wonderful time of worship, as we remembered the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Thanks to our Deacons and Deaconesses for your service yesterday. You make it happen!

I preached from James 5:12 – “Tell It Like It Is.”

I believe the Lord gave me a good understanding of this verse. But, boy, did I have to wrestle to shape it for preaching!

I stood up to preach at my 8 AM service with only 20 minutes to preach. I think I took about 30 minutes… with a 45-minute message.

Next week’s sermon: “The Power of Believing Prayer” (James 5:13-18).

Praise God for those who were saved and added to our church family yesterday.

My memory verses these week are Ephesians 6:12-13: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

In just a month, more than 4,000 people have downloaded out Shiloh Church app. Way cool!

Have a happy and safe 4th of July! God bless.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Midyear Tune-Up Tonight at Shiloh

The Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church family will meet together for its Midyear Tune-Up Service tonight at 7 PM.

We will praise God together for all that he is done for us – personally and corporately – during the first half of 2011. And we will pray for God’s guidance, strength, and favor for the second half of the year.

Our guest speaker will be Dr. A.B. Sutton, Jr., who is the Pastor-Teacher of the Living Stones Temple in Birmingham, Alabama.

If you do not have a commitment at your church, please join us for this for this special time of worship. Or join us online at

Monday, June 27, 2011

Notes from Sunday - 06/26/11

Last week, I participated in the National Baptist Convention USA Inc.’s Congress of Christian Education in Indianapolis. It was the first time I have participated in the meeting for the full week. I had the opportunity to teach in the Laymen’s Department each day and to speak in the general session Wednesday afternoon. I was an exhausting but enriching week. Grateful to Harold Simmons, president of the Laymen, for all his kindness.

Our new Car Care Ministry began this past Saturday! More than twenty men will volunteer their services to do free basic car repairs for seniors and single mothers in our congregation. Shout out to Pastor Letson for his oversight and Donald Brooks for his leadership.

We had a great day of worship at Shiloh yesterday.

I taught a new lesson in our new members class – a new version of “What Shiloh Expects From You.” I really enjoyed the time with our new members.

Our ensemble led the music Sunday. And, as usual, they did a great job.

Thanks to all of our Greeters and Ushers for your service. You make it happen!

We had quite of few guests in worship Sunday. After the services, I had the opportunity to meet several families who have recently moved to Jacksonville and are looking for a church home. They were blessed by the service and said they would consider returning. Very encouraging.

I am praying for our many members who are on vacation. May God’s blessings be on them and bring them home safely.

I preached from James 5:7-11. I called the message, “What to do in the Meantime.”

James 5:7-11 teaches three disciplines to practice when you are forced to spend time in God’s waiting room:

1. Be patient (5:7-8).
2. Do not grumble (5:9).
3. Follow godly examples (5:10-11).

For some reason, I did not say much of what I mapped out to say and ended up saying much that I did not map out.

I have three more sermons to preach to conclude my study of the Epistle of James.

Next Sunday’s message: “Tell It Like It Is” (James 5:12).

Praise God for those who were added to the church yesterday. (Particularly, thank God for adding Brodes and Danielle to our church family.)

We had a pretty quiet evening. Just the way I like it. Now for a busy week.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Testimony: My Journey to the ESV

The Bible has always been a central part of my life. And the translation of my youth was the King James Version. My home church was not “King James Only.” But the KJV was the only translation we were exposed to. I had a children’s story Bible that I loved. But I knew it was not THE Bible. The KJV was. I assumed it was the Bible Jesus and the apostles read.

My father – who was my pastor – studied and preached from the KJV. But he often read devotionally from the Moffat Translation, I later discovered. It was the default version from which he would quote Psalm 23:1: “The Eternal shepherd’s me, I lack nothing.” This introduced me to the world of multiple Bible translations.

Then I got a copy of Kenneth Taylor’s Living Bible paraphrase. I was fascinated that it was written to help his children understand scripture during their family devotions. And I understood that it was a paraphrase, not a translation. But I enjoyed reading it. On one occasion, I was studying Psalm 1. I knew the psalm by memory. But I struggled to make sense of it for preaching. So I pulled down my Living Bible. The first verse read: “Oh how happy are those who do not take advice from ungodly people.” That paraphrase caused things to begin to click for me and showed me that different translations can help you see a text with fresh eyes.

I remember in the early days of my pastorate, I was in a jam and stole a sermon from a book. It was called “Other Little Ships” based on Mark 4:35. Jesus was on the ship, but there were other little ships with him… like worship, fellowship, discipleship, and stewardship… Get it? I thought I nailed it. But after the service, a member showed me her Bible, which read “other little boats.” I was embarrassed. And I determined not to steal again (Until the next time!) and not to have a sermon trumped because I did not compare translations.

At some point, after young people and new believers kept mentioning their difficulty in understanding the KJV, I started using the New King James Version. It was basically the KJV, with some words translated more accurately and the archaic language updated. It used “You” rather than “thee” and “thou.” And it did not use any words that end with “eth,” like “maketh” or “cometh.”

I used NKJV for personal study and public teaching for about ten years. But I constantly read from various translations. For an extended period, I would study from the NKJV and do my devotions from the New International Version – memorizing scripture from both translations. But this proved to be more than I could maintain.

One day, I drove out to my favorite Christian bookstore. I slowly perused every section of the store, looking for anything new or of note that I had not read. Scanning the Bibles section, I picked up the English Standard Version. As I began to read it, I was hooked. It had the accuracy of the New American Standard Bible, the readability of the New International Version, and yet maintained much of the poetry of the King James Version/New King James Version. It became my personal Bible, even though I was still preaching from the NKJV.

When I finished a book series I was preaching, I decided to try out the ESV for a few weeks. I have been preaching and teaching from it every since. I never made an announcement of my change. I just would just state the translation I was using before I read my text, which I had always done and still do. Many followed me to the ESV, in order to have the same Bible the pastor was preaching from.

I continued to compare translations. And I am sensitive to the fact that there are many different translations sitting in people’s laps when I stand to preach. But the ESV has proven to be sufficient for my personal devotions, in-depth study, and public ministry. And the growing number of reference resources linked to the ESV only increases my confidence in it as a fitting Bible for both personal and corporate use.

I actually think that there are too many translations on the market. Publishers are producing new Bible versions for economic gain rather than spiritual benefit. Thankfully, there is a “survival of the fittest” dynamic that renders unworthy translations extinct. But it is my prayer that the ESV will gain readership and influence among Bible readers and students. May the Lord use this wonderful translation to spark a revival of love for the word of God!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Notes from Sunday - Father's Day 2011

Friday night, a large group of us traveled to Savannah, Georgia, to worship with Pastor Matthew Odom and the Temple of Glory Community Church. It was great bus ride with our members. Our choir really showed out! And I finally got to preach a sermon that has been on my heart for several weeks now.

Note: Whenever someone reads a long bio about me before I preach, I feel like at sitting in my own funeral as someone is readying my obituary. I am just waiting for them to say, “He lives behind to mourn his passing… and a host of family and friends.”

Saturday morning was our annual All-Male Round-Up. Our theme was “Finishing Strong.” I taught on the theme from Hebrews 12:1-2. We had sessions on health, marriage, parenting, and financing, as well as classes for our boys and young men. Then there was plenty of food and fellowship! It was a great day. Thanks to Mitch, our Men’s Ministry team, and all the brothers (and sisters) who volunteered to make it a great day. You make it happen!

Yesterday was a great day of worship and fellowship at Shiloh.

Throughout the day I was grateful for the blessing of a great father – H.B. Charles, Sr. – and for the blessing of three great children – H.B. III, Natalie, and Hailey.

Grateful for all of the guests who were in worship with us, including the members of the Rebault High School Class of 1991.

The Bakers, friends from New Jersey, dropped in for worship at 10:15. I had just asked a mutual friend about them last week. And there they were. It was good to see them.

Sister Mildred Brown was present yesterday for worship. If I am correct, she is our oldest member. She turned 101-years-old today. What a blessing!

Special thanks to all who serve on our Security Ministry.

Praise God for those who were baptized yesterday in faith and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Women’s Chorus led in musical praise, giving the brothers the day off. Thanks for your service, sisters.

Before the sermon, they choir sung “There Is No Way.” I love this song. And the choir really blessed us with it in both services.

I ditched my study of James this week and preached a Father’s Day message from Ephesians 6:4 – Why Fathers need to be Spirit-Filled.

I endeavored to give three reasons why fathers need to be Spirit-filled:

1. Fathers have been placed in a special role: “Fathers”
2. Fathers must practice self-restraint: “do not provoke your children to anger”
3. Fathers have been given a special responsibility: “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

I said some big things to and about fathers. But I hope that my tone was not too harsh.

Yesterday was actually the first time I had preached a Sunday morning message on the family since I have been at Shiloh. I need to rectify this situation soon.

Next week’s message: “Be Patient” (James 4:7-11).

Praise God for those who were saved and added to the church yesterday… including Keecia.

Between services, I came up with the bright idea of giving free copies of the message to all of the fathers who were present. It was a blessing to the fathers. But it was a nightmare for the media workers. Yet they served our men graciously and patiently. Thanks to all the media/tape room team members who helped out. You make it happen!

Of course, I got in trouble for giving CDs away to the fathers, because I did not do the same for the mothers last month. I knew that was coming.

By the way, in about two weeks, more than 2,000 people have downloaded our new church app. Way cool!

I had a great dinner with my wife and kids. I don’t remember much after that.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Remember H.B. Charles Sr. (Father's Day 2011)

It has been a long weekend for me. And I am not just talking about my hectic schedule over the past several days. I am referring to my consuming thoughts about my father.

My father was funeralized Father’s Day weekend, 1989 – twenty-two years ago.

I trust I will see my father again in glory. This is a comforting assurance for me. Yet there are still times when I still grieve his passing. It happened to me again this weekend.

I think being at my grandmother’s funeral this week did it to me. There was a slide show at the end of the service. And there was a picture of my dad, standing outside my grandparents’ house. There were several other people in the picture. But I did not pay attention to them enough to tell you who they were. All I saw was my father’s big smile. I have been consumed with thoughts of my dad the rest of the week.

Most of my weekend has spent studying and preparing myself to preach. And it has made me think much and long about how my father taught me to love books.

I do not think that my affinity for reading and research came naturally for me. I made friends with books trying to be like my father. He was an avid reader, with a library that consisted of thousands of books. We moved several times over the years. And I remember the biggest priority was always whether a potential home had a suitable place to store his books. I think he would be impressed with the library I have developed over the years.

I do not know what happened to most of my father’s books. But I still have my father’s Bible. It is filled with the study notes in the margins. When I see it, I think about the countless hours my father sat reading and studying that Bible. And it challenges me to spend much time in the word of God.

One evening, I asked my father to help me find a scripture. I quoted it to him: “If my people, who are called by my name, would humble themselves…” I knew the verse. But I did not know the reference. He told me to go get a book off his desk called a “Concordance.” He told me he would show me how to find the verse. I did not want to do that. I just wanted him to tell me the reference. He gave me a choice. Either I could get the concordance of his desk and let him show me how to find the verse or I could get his phone book off his desk and call to ask his assistant pastor, Rev. Russell Banks, where it was. I chose to call Rev. Banks. But I was rebuked by how patiently my father dealt with his prideful son. I later asked him to show me how to use a concordance. And it began a friendship with reference books that has taught me the word and help me to prepare to teach others.

My father taught a minister’s class on Tuesday nights. One night, before class, I showed the other guys several new books of sermon outlines I had bought. He sat and listened. Then he started the class by warning the other guys not to be like me. He says that I was looking for short cuts and that guys were making money writing sermon outline books for lazy preachers like me. I was challenged to dig my own wells so that I won’t have to steal other people’s water.

As I was preaching my early service this morning, I thought about how my dad used to tell people that raising me was like raising a champion horse. He was trying to discipline my ways without breaking my spirit. I do not know if he died with a sense that he succeeded. But I hope he would be proud of the man, Christian, husband, father, and minister that I have become.

I truly miss my father. And I thank God for sharing him with me as long as he did. And I pray that the Lord will keep me from dishonoring the good name my father passed on to me.