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?