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!