I think that there are people who enjoy Bible study the same way that other people enjoy filling out crossword puzzles. Get all the parts and get the thing completed – they find satisfaction. I think there are people that study the Bible that way. They can see how it relates to its context and how its details work to get across the concept. But if it never gets into your life, if it never really touches your experience, I doubt seriously that you can call it a study of biblical truth, because I think God’s truth is always designed to challenge and change us. – Haddon Robinson (Michael Duduit, Preaching with Power, pp. 155-56)
I had a good Sunday. But I missed worshiping with and preaching to the Shiloh Church.
Thanks to Pastors West Wilson and Donald Lewis for ministering the word to the congregation at Shiloh.
It was my privilege to speak during the celebration of the 50 years Dr. John A. Reed Jr. has served as Pastor of the Fairview Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
Pastor Reed was one of my father’s closest friends. He was “Uncle John” to me, when I was a boy.
The morning my father died, I was flying home to Los Angeles. Dr. Reed was flying home from Los Angeles, after preaching a week of meetings at my dad’s church. He turned right around and was there for me and with me that week.
After my father’s passing, Uncle John became “Pop” to me. He has been a father figure for me throughout my adult life. He ordained me into the ministry. He helped install me into my first congregation. He gave the message at my wedding to Crystal. He counseled me when I was deciding to move to leave my father’s church for Jacksonville. He helped install me at Shiloh. For more than 15 years, he let me speak at his church’s annual revival.
I often say, “It happens after prayer.” It is the title of my upcoming book. That line is the truth I learned from Dr. Reed.
Dr. Reed, his family, and the Fairview Church have been a great source of support and encouragement through the years. And it was an honor to be with them for this special celebration.
Out the pulpits of my two pastorates, there is no congregation I have preached to more over the years than Fairview. It was a homecoming, of sorts. I enjoyed preaching to this word-loving congregation again.
I witnessed something I had never seen in worship before. At the end of the service, Pastor Reed asked for prayer for his ailing wife. Then he admitted to the congregation that her sickness weighed on him and that he desperately needed their prayers. As he was talking, several members left their seats and came to the altar and began to pray for their pastor. Within minutes, several hundred members literally surrounded their pastor in prayer. That’s what it means to cover your pastor!
After service, a brother thanked me for the live streaming of our worship services at Shiloh. He had surgery and could not attend church for 12 weeks. He got through it, he said, my watching our Sunday morning services. Way cool.
Likewise, a young man came up to me and said, “From a young preacher to an old preacher, thanks for the message.” Old preacher? Who, me?
I had dinner with my mother and younger sister, who both live in Oklahoma City. My mother’s birthday is the day before mine. And this year was the first time in a long time that we did not spend our birthday together. I missed her and was glad to see her, if only briefly.
My Miami Heat destroyed their supposed rivals, the Indiana Pacers, to extend their winning streak to 18 games.
Did you see DeAndre Jordan’s monster dunk?
Well, what do you say? The Lakers have clawed their way into the eighth playoff spot.
I predict the Duke Blue Devils will win the NCAA Basketball Championship this year. Who you got?
How was your Sunday? How did your teams do this weekend? Join the conversation in the comments section.
Thanks for reading my blog this week. You can sign up for email updates of future posts under the picture to the left.
A big shout-out to my son, H.B. Charles, III, for making the track team this week – along with making the basketball team! Go, H.B.!!!
Shout-out to Pastors Todd, Benson, and Washington for the opportunity to preach to their congregations in Alexander City/Rockford, Alabama, Thursday and Friday nights.
I posted my latest “On Preaching” article this week: “On Sermon Conclusions.”
ChurchLeaders.com posted my article on “How to Avoid Pulpit Plagiarism” this week.
I am looking forward to speaking with Dr. Steven J. Lawson at the One Passion Conference. Dr. Lawson is pound-for-pound the best Bible expositor in the country.
The 2013 E.K. Bailey Preaching Conference is open for registration.
Don’t miss the 2013 National Conference on Preaching.
Kent Shaffer: Top 200 Ministry Blogs
Practical Shepherding: How does a pastor deal with “Carnal Christians” in his church?
Chuck Lawless: Seven Warning Signs of a Leader’s Fall
Tom Ascol: One Family Under God
The Biblemesh Blog: Can’t I Just Skip Over the Genealogies in the Bible?
Mark Driscoll: How to plan a preaching schedule
Bryan Crawford Loritts: The Other
Doug Wilson’s response to Bryan Loritts: With a Bit of Menthol
Michael Leake: 7 Ways to Create a Reading Culture in Your Church
Modern Reject: My Expectation-Free Marriage
Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscles of Omnipotence. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Do you have any shout-outs? Have you read something this week worth sharing? Join the conversation in the comments section.
“So how was your flight?”
When I am asked this question, I typically respond by saying it was a good flight. I speak positively about the flight for one reason. It landed. I may not like my assigned seat. There may have been no room for my bag in the overhead compartment. It may have been a bumpy flight the whole ride. But none of that really matters as long as the flight lands safely.
The same is true of sermons. It may get off to a bumpy start. You may have to play catch up to stay within the allotted time schedule. The people on board may not like where it is headed. But all will be forgiven if you can safely land the sermon at its intended destination.
Hear are seven tips on landing the sermon safely with a strong conclusion.
Give a true conclusion. Don’t just stop. Don’t let the sermon trail off. Don’t preach until you hit your time limit. Don’t go until you run out of material. Don’t simply end by saying a prayer or extending an invitation. Conclude the sermon intentionally. View the sermon as a unit with an introduction, body, and conclusion. Work to craft a conclusion that is clear, compelling, and climatic.
Only conclude once. Paul says, “Finally,” several times in Philippians. But Philippians is divinely inspired. Your sermon on Philippians is not. So when you say, “Finally,” mean it. Avoid serial conclusions. You will only make the congregation nervous if you keep circling the runway. No skilled pilot plays with the landing gear. And flight attendants don’t promise to land early just because the passengers look bored. So don’t go into an unnecessary holding pattern by introducing new material at the end. Land when its time to land.
Know your destination. Where is the sermon going? What’s the point? How should the congregation respond to the truth of the text? The answers to these questions will determine how to end the message. A conclusion cannot reach a place where the sermon does not go. You should take off with a predetermined destination. And the navigational devices of the message should head in that direction and lead to a logical conclusion. A good conclusion is the result of a sermon that had purpose, unity, and movement.
Review the message. It is often said that a speaker should tell the audience what he is going to say, say it, and then tell them what you said. That may be a cliché. But it works. An effective way to conclude a sermon is to review the major points of the message. Don’t just repeat the main ideas. Restate them. Enforce them. Apply them. Illustrate them. Celebrate them. View the conclusion as the introduction in reverse. Close by making the point again.
Issue a call to action. Application should take place throughout the sermon. But the conclusion is a good place to emphasize it. It is self-deception to hear the word without doing what it says (James 1:22). The goal of preaching is application. So end there. Challenge the congregation to live out the teachings of the faith. Exhort them to be doers of the word. Explain why obedience matters. Show them what following Jesus looks like in practical terms.
Run to the cross. Jesus should be the hero of every sermon. And the conclusion is a good place to point your hearers to Christ. Of course, the message should be saturated with the gospel. Christ is not honored when he is mentioned at the end of a message that ignores him throughout. But there is power in concluding with a clear declaration of the gospel. Run to the cross. Call the hearer to repent and believe. End by exalting the sufficiency of Christ’s Person and Work.
Leave a good impression. First impressions are lasting impressions. But so are closing ones. A message that starts with a bang but ends with a whimper loses credibility. A poor conclusion can trump a good introduction and strong main body. So finish strong. Practice clarity. Use variety. Use variety. Make it memorable. Strive for an economy of words. Don’t ramble. Write it out. Be familiar with it. Think of the conclusion as a lawyer’s closing argument. Don’t leave any reasonable doubt. Preach for a verdict.
What tips would you give for effective sermon conclusions? Join the conversation in the comments section.
It is a very cold day here in Jacksonville. The only good reason to be outside was to go to church!
We celebrated the Lord’s Supper today in both of our morning worship services.
I was glad to have all of our guests in worship today, especially the interns from the local 2nd Mile Ministries of Jacksonville.
The music was good today.
I resumed our Family Matters series with a message, entitled, “Live-In Love: What the Bible Says about Cohabitation” (Hebrews 13:4).
I gave three reasons why it is wrong for Christians couples to live together without being married. The reasons were taken from Hebrews 13:4:
- We must honor the sanctity of marriage (Heb. 13:4a)
- We must practice sexual purity (Heb. 13:4b)
- We must face the consequences of sin (Heb. 13:4c)
Praise God for those who were added to the church.
I typically counsel cohabiting couples to repent and one of them move out. I extended a special “amnesty” program today. For any couple that wants to do right and get marriage, we are a church will help them prepare for marriage. 15 couples took me up on our offer today.
A big shout-out to our Outreach Pastor, R. Bryant, for leading my Bible Study Fellowship class today so I could me with the couples that are interested in participating in the mass wedding on May 4.
Holy Week is just a few weeks away. Can’t wait.
The Miami Heat defeated the New York Knicks this afternoon, 99-93, to win their 14th straight game, tying a franchise record.
LeBron James is the MVP. Again. You can give him the trophy now.
The Clippers loss to the Thunder today in Los Angeles. Is this a foreshadowing of what will happen in the playoffs?
The best buzzer-beater you will ever see!
Are you watching the History Channel’s The Bible documentary tonight?
How was your Sunday? How did your teams do this weekend? Join the conversation in the comments section.
Thanks for reading my blog this week. I hope you find the following resources helpful.
You can sign up for email updates of future posts under the picture to the left.
A big birthday shout-out to my daughter, Natalie, who turns 11-years-old Monday (3/4).
Both of my daughters were born in March. Hailey’s big day is coming at the end of the month (3/24).
Shout-out to all the men of Shiloh who studied with us the past 6 weeks for 33 The Series (Part 2).
Preorder my upcoming book: “It Happens After Prayer”
Follow Shiloh Church on Twitter: @ShilohJAX
Thanks to Ray Pritchard for sharing 52 Sermons for Good Friday and Easter.
I had the opportunity to meet Anthony J. Carter of the East Pointe Church this weekend. I was very encouraged by his wisdom on the subject of being Black and Reformed. Buy Carter’s new book, “Blood Work.” by Anthony J. Carter
Ligonier 2013 National Conference Audio & Video.
Michael Horton: Pilgrim Theology: Applying the Coordinates to the Key Doctrine
David Murray: Top 200 Preaching Resources
David Powlinson: The Local Church is THE Place for Biblical Counseling
Pyromaniacs: The Most Offensive Verse in the Bible
Stephen Miller: Hey, Church Musician, You’re Leading Worship Too!
Micah Carter: 25 Ways Men Can Be Servant Leaders
Kate Conner: Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls
A dedicated Christian home is the nearest thing to heaven on earth, and it starts with a Christian marriage. – Warren Wiersbe
Do you have any shout-outs to share? Have you read anything this week to share? Join the conversation in the comments section.
I recently preached a message on the biblical grounds for divorce. This is not a subject where all agree. But I read the scriptures to teach two circumstances in which God permits divorce:
- God permits divorce when sexual immorality has been committed (Matt. 5:32; 19:9).
- God permits divorce when a believer is deserted by an unbelieving spouse (1 Cor. 7:15-16).
These are the only grounds scripture gives for divorce. And, as it relates to sexual immorality, I believe that we should view this as unrepentant sinful behavior, not just a single act.
If a believer divorces outside of these grounds, he or she is obligated to remain unmarried or be reconciled to their mate. (Note: I do not think these stipulations apply to believers who were divorced before they were converted to faith in Christ.)
God hates divorce. It is not his will that a marriage end in divorce. But God in his mercy permits divorce under limited circumstances.
This is my summary of what the Bible says about divorce. Admittedly, it leaves a lot of “what abouts” Specifically, the follow-up question I have received the most is about domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse is a serious matter. If statistics are correct, it is an inevitably reality in every local church. But this fact is not often acknowledged, much less addressed in the church.
Young or single women should be advised not to get involved with an angry man. “A man of great wrath will pay the penalty,” warns Proverbs 19:19, “for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.” I interpret this verse to mean that if a man does it once, he’ll do it again. So a woman should go slow and let a relationship develop in a way that she has the opportunity to see a potential mate responds to different moods.
Likewise, young or single men should be taught that a husband is to treat his wife with love, respect, and gentleness (Eph. 5:28-30; Col. 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7). Psalm 11:5 says, “The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” Anger does not accomplish the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20). We must cultivate the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) that we may reflect the character of Christ in our relationships.
What about those on the other side of the marriage vows? What advice should be given to those who are going through this? Is domestic abuse grounds for divorce?
On one hand, this is a simple question. The Bible does not teach that domestic abuse, in and of itself, is grounds for divorce. However, I think domestic abuse can lead to circumstances that result in grounds for divorce.
While I cannot teach domestic abuse as grounds for divorce, I would direct a woman to immediately remove herself from a place where she and her children are threatened with abuse. Get to a safe place. Do not stay where you are in danger. And when physical abuse has taken place, it should also be reported to the authorities. A man who physically harms his wife should be subject to the law.
If a man (as is typically the case, even though men themselves are sometimes victims of abuse) abuses his wife and he is a professing believer, he should become subject to formal church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20). Unfortunately, this process could lead to the brother’s excommunication. At this point, I believe divorce would be permissible. He is a brother who has proven to be an unbeliever by his behavior and has, in a real sense, “deserted” his marriage by his abusive behavior. If a man abuses his wife and is not a believer, and continues to be a threat to her, I believe this should be viewed as a desertion of the marriage, as well.
What do you think? How would you counsel a person in this situation? But biblical wisdom would you give? Join the conversation in the comments section.
Today was Ministry Emphasis Day at the Shiloh Church.
There was a ministry fair after both services today. Ministry leaders answered questions. Members signed-up to serve. Way cool.
I am grateful to God for all the volunteers of our congregation. You make it happen!
We did not have Bible Study Fellowship groups today, to give members the opportunity to browse ministry displays today.
As always, I was glad to have our guests in worship today, including the New Stanton High School class of 1977.
Praise God for the two who were baptized today.
I preached on “The Good Samaritan” from Luke 10:25-37.
Two questions drive the discussion of this text: (1) What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 25) and (2) “And who is my neighbor?” (v. 29)
I did not use an obvious sermon outline today. There is so much drama in the text. I just trying to faithfully recreate the text in a create way.
I had a long weekend. Did not think I would be ready to preach the Good Samaritan this morning. The Lord really helped me to finish my preparations.
Praise God for those who were added to the church today.
Next Sunday, I plan to resume my Family Matters series with a message on cohabitation called, “Live-In Love.”
The Miami Heat won their tenth straight game last night. And LeBron James – on his way to another MVP – had a messed around and got a triple double.
I don’t see any team that can stop the Heat from winning it all again!
The Lakers topped the Mavericks this afternoon to win its third straight game. Do you think Kobe and company will make the playoffs?
I will not watch the Oscars. But I am curious to hear who wins the hotly contested award races this year.
How was your Sunday? What sports stories caught your attention this weekend? Join the conversation in the comments section.
Thanks for reading my blog. You can sign up for email updates under the picture to the left.
Tomorrow is Ministry Emphasis Day at the Shiloh Church. A big-shout to all of our volunteers for your service and sacrifice. You make it happen!
Shout-out to Elder Benard Yates and the Primitive Baptist Church Convention for the opportunity to speak at their board meeting and institute this past Monday and Tuesday.
10 Ways to Avoid Indecent Exposure in the Pulpit by H.B. Charles, Jr.
Praise God for the life and ministry of Howard G. Hendricks!
R. Albert Mohler: Tebow’s Big Fumble
W. Robert Godfrey: The Word-less “Church
Check out this blog site: Don’t Waste Your Wedding: Thoughts on Proclaiming the Gospel on Your Big Day
Paula Hendricks: 25 Years of Evangelizing My Husband
Sherry Allchin: Help! I Just Discovered My Husband Is Looking At Pornography?”
Sherry Allchin: What Do I Do If My Child Is Looking At Pornography?
Trevin Wax: 10 Sure Signs We’ve Love Our Minds
Ron Edmondson: 7 Common Energy and Time Wasters for Leaders
Kevin DeYoung: Why Pastors Should Read Over Their Heads
Lukas Naugle: 7 Things Pastors Should Teach Those in the Marketplace
Brad Whitt: 20 Ways to Tell Your Children You Love Them
Service is an act; servanthood is a lifestyle. – LeBron Fairbanks
Do you have any shout-outs to share? Have you read something this week worth recommending? Join the conversation in the comments section.
Happy President’s Day!
In my Bible Study Fellowship class, I continued my study of 1 Timothy with a lesson on the ministry of deacons (3:8-13). Didn’t finish.
Praise God for those who were baptized yesterday.
I continued our Family Matters series with a message from Matthew 19:3-10: “Jesus’ Answer to the Question of Divorce”
In Matthew 19, Jesus affirms the sanctity of marriage (vv. 3-6) and explains the grounds for divorce (3:7-10).
Matthew 19:9 is the crux of the text and is the subject of much debate. But I believe the phrase, “except for sexual immorality,” is a true exception, under which circumstances God permits divorce.
I believe there are two biblical grounds for divorce: (1) sexual infidelity (Matt. 19:9) and (2) desertion by an unbelieving spouse (1 Cor. 7:15).
I believe that if a person divorces outside of these grounds they have two options: to remain unmarried or be reconciled to his/her spouse (1 Co. 7:10-11).
Jesus calls the remarriage of one who is not divorced on biblical grounds “adultery” (Matt. 19:9). I believe the entering of the new marriage is adultery. I do not believe the marriage continues in an ongoing state of adultery. Those in this category should repent of their sin, receive God’s forgiveness, and remain in the current marriage.
I had two goes for this message. First, I wanted to give a clear and faithful explanation of this key passage about divorce and remarriage. Second, I wanted the message to have a pastoral tone and say something helpful to those who are struggles with this issue.
Praise God for those who were added to the church.
Next Sunday is our Ministry Emphasis Day. I will break the family series to preach on Christian service. I plan to preach on “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37).
Okay, so I didn’t see the NBA All-Star Game last night. Any of it. I was knocked out before the sun went down.
The news focused on two things from the all-star game: Chris Paul won the MVP. And Kobe Bryant blocked two of LeBron James’ shots.
The dunk contest Saturday was not good. Some of the dunks were cool. But it’s hard to get invested in players you have never heard of. The NBA needs to find a way to get the stars to participate.
It is amazing how LeBron is constantly compared to other people. Why can’t you just say the kid is good and leave it at that?
ESPN milked Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday for everything they could get out of it.
I am interested to see what trades take place in the NBA before the deadline. I don’t think my two teams – the Heat and the Clippers – need to make any trades.
My Duke Blue Devils lost again this weekend. It’s a tough year in college basketball.
Adrien Broner won again Saturday night. He’s a good young boxer. But he needs to tone down all the antics.
Serena Williams become the number-one women’s tennis player in the world again today. At 31, she is the oldest woman to hold that position.
Congratulations to Danica Patrick for being the 1st woman to win the pole position for the Daytona 500. I am not a racing fan. But I hope Danica wins next Sunday.
How was your Sunday? Did you enjoy the NBA All-Star Game? Join the conversation in the comments section.