Happy Labor Day!

Whatever you do, work hardily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. – Colossians 2:23-24 (ESV)

Have a happy, safe, and blessed Labor Day!

 

Happy Independence Day!

Happy 236 Birthday to the USA!

We are blessed to live in this young democratic experiment called the United States of America.

Pray for our president and all those who are in authority over us.

Remember those in the armed forces who sacrifice so much that we may live the liberties we enjoy and sometimes take for granted.

Have a great day!

God bless.

A Confession: I love C.M.E. Christians!

You have heard of C.M.E. Christians, haven’t you?

This has nothing to do with a particular denomination. C.M.E. Christians are in every church.

They are people who only come to church on Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Easter Sunday. Get it?

Ironically, C.M.E. Christians are usually not true Christians. They are nominal Christians, at best. They have enough religion to come to church  on these special occasions on the Christian calendar. But you most likely will not see them again… until the day Christian holiday.

During weeks like this, we pastors are prone to complain about the many C.M.E. Christians who will attend our worship services on Easter Sunday.

I admit, I did for many years. I was irked by the apparent hypocrisy. I cannot wait until next, I thought, when things get back to normal and I can preach to the true Christians. (It would take me years to figure out that the level of hypocrisy did not decrease one bit the Sunday after Easter!)

One day, I changed my mind. I wish I could say when it happened or how it happened. I don’t remember. But at some point, my frustration toward C.M.E. Christians changed. Rather than dreading Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Easter, I really started to look forward to it.

All year, the church reaches out to unsaved and unchurched people. But on Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Easter, we almost don’t have to do any outreach. The unsaved and unchurch just show up. At least, they are more open to an invitation to come to worship to hear the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

What a blessing!

I determined to stop complaining about C.M.E. Christians. I no longer made little snide comments about them from the pulpit. Instead, I fell in love with them. And I have made it my goal to make sure the church I serve puts its best foot forward to welcome them and to make sure the worship is prepared and the message is clear.

Without a doubt, there will be C.M.E. Christians at your church this coming Sunday.

Please, don’t view this as a negative thing. Pray that God would give you love for them and that he move through the worship and the word to introduce them to the love of God demonstrated in the bloody cross and the empty tomb of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Notes from Palm Sunday 2012

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. I am very excited!

Saturday was our Make a Difference Day. Our members participated in various service projects to show the love of Christ to our community and city. It was a great day of service. Thanks to all of our volunteers. You make it happen!

In my Sunday school class, I continued my lesson on the sovereignty of God. I still did not finish the lesson. And I haven’t even got the best part yet!

It was great to have all of our guests in worship yesterday.

The Appalachian State University Gospel Choir from North Carolina was our special guest in our 10:15 worship service. Those kids can sing!

We celebrated the Lord’s Table in our worship services. What a wonderful way to kick off Holy Week!

I preached from Matthew 17:1-8 on the Transfiguration of Jesus. What a text!

I sought to make one simple point in the message: There is no one like Jesus!

There are three supernatural events in the story of the Transfiguration that make it clear that there is no one like Jesus:

1. The divine glory of Jesus was revealed (17:1-2).

2. The redemptive work of Jesus was affirmed (17:3).

3. The unrivaled supremacy of Jesus was declared (17:4-8).

The Transfiguration is one of the most important events in the ministry of Jesus. But I can only name one sermon I have ever heard on it. And that was by a radio preacher!

Sunday afternoon, I flew to Atlanta to close out the Seven Last Words of Jesus for Pastor Tim Fleming at the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church.

I did not get up to preach until 9:45. That’s 9:45 PM. I preached for 15 minutes. I had mercy on the congregation. The congregation had mercy on me. Matthew 5:7!!!

I missed WrestleMania last night.

The Miami Heat were beat down by the surging Boston Celtics yesterday. Bad.

Kansas vs. Kentucky tonight for the NCAA men’s basketball championship. Who you got?

Sean Peyton and the New Orleans Saints will appeal their suspensions this week for their defense’s bounty program. Will it make a difference?

I hope Bill Parcels serves as interim coach for the Saints this year. Love the Tuna!

I am on my way to Detroit today to preach tonight. Please remember me in your prayers.

How was your Sunday?

Notes from Sunday – New Years Day 2012

I am in Los Angeles.

I flew in to attend the annual Prayer Bowl, hosted by Pastor Melvin Wade and the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church of Los Angeles. The Prayer Bowl is a daylong service of preaching – one sermon after another that Mt. Moriah has hosted at the beginning of the year for almost 30 years. I have attended it since I was a boy. And I preached in it every year until I moved to Jacksonville.

I am not here to preach. I just want to attend and be preached to. But Pastor Wade warned me that I need to be prepared to give a word. We’ll see.

So… My flight that was supposed to leave JAX at 3:30 left an hour later. My connection through Miami went from 5:15 to 7:55. And when I arrived, my bag did not. By the time I finally get to the front of the lost bag line, they tell me that my bag would be arriving on the next flight. It finally arrived. And I made it to my room before 2013!

New year. But some things never change. H.B.’s airport adventures continue.

Anyway…

We had a great day of worship at Shiloh Sunday.

We only had one service today – at 9 AM – because it was New Year’s Day. But the saints came out to worship!

 Ray did a great job leading the corporate singing.

Glad to have had all the guests who were in worship with us.

As always, it was a privilege to lead the congregation in the celebration of the Lord’s Table.

Gloria led “He Wants It All” as the song of preparation. Beautiful.

I preached “God Knows What He’s Doing” from the doxology of Paul in Romans 11:33-36.

Sermon Point: God is worthy to be praised because he knows what he is doing, even when we don’t!

How should you respond to the marvelous truth that God knows what he’s doing?

I. Celebrate the wonder of God’s greatness (11:33).
II. Embrace the truth of God’s greatness (11:34-35).
III. Affirm the scope of God’s greatness (11:36).

This text really ministered to me this past week. I struggled with the temptation to worry about something that is beyond my control. And I was frustrated. I really needed to be reminded that, whatever happens, God knows what he’s doing.

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

I love my congregation. And I am grateful for the privilege of serving such great people. I did not get to see any football Sunday! Not cool.

The Jags beat the Colts. But the Colts won the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.

The Cowboys… aw, never mind. You know what happened!

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.