Notes from Sunday – 03/03/13

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:

  1. We must honor the sanctity of marriage (Heb. 13:4a)
  2. We must practice sexual purity (Heb. 13:4b)
  3. 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.

Did Magic Johnson really offer LeBron James a million dollars to participate in the NBA dunk contest?

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. 

Saturday Shout-Outs: 33, Natalie, & Ministry Links

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

Thom Rainer: Seven Questions a Pastor Should Ask a Church Before He Says “Yes” 

Ed Stetzer: Debunking Megachurch Myths: Especially the One About Sheep Swapping

Ed Stetzer: The Problem with Arrogant Pastors &  5 Ways Not to Be One

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 

NAMB: SBC ethnic congregations up 66 percent since 1998

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. 

Is Domestic Abuse Grounds For Divorce?

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:

  1. God permits divorce when sexual immorality has been committed (Matt. 5:32; 19:9).
  2. 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. 

Notes from Sunday – 02/24/13

safe_image.php_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.”

After church…

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. 

Saturday Shout-Outs: Hendricks, Tebow, & Ministry Links

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.

The Concord Church has published information about the 2013 E.K. Bailey Preaching Conference. I am honored to be invited again to participate as a speaker & lecturer.

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?

Pyromaniacs: When you become an Evangelical rock-star, remember this.

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. 

Notes from Sunday – 02/17/13

Happy President’s Day!

safe_image.php_It was a long but good day of worship and ministry at Shiloh yesterday.

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.  

Saturday Shout-Outs: 40, Hymn Lining, & Ministry Links

Thanks again for all of your kind birthday expressions. I have been 40 for about a week and survived! I hope I am getting better as I am getting older.

Thanks for reading my blog. And thanks for signing up. If you have not done so, you can sign up for email updates of future posts under the picture to the left.

Shout-out to for posting my article this week: “How to Be an Awesome Guest Preacher.” 

Shout-out to for posting my article this week: “The Danger of Spiritual Catchphrases” 

Shout-out to Michael Jordan - The greatest of all time! – on his 5oth birthday this weekend.

Hymn Living: A Disappearing African American Tradition

Marc5Solas: Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church

John MacArthur: The Abundance of Giving

Check out The Master’s Seminary’s new Theological Resource Center

D.A. Carson: How Can God be both Personal and Transcendent

John Piper: Fill in the Cracks of Your Life with Black History This Month 

Fred Luter: We Need African Americans on the International Mission Field.

Kevin DeYoung: How can I tell if I’m called to pastoral ministry?

Kathy Keller: The Dangers of ‘Faking It’ in Ministry

Ronnie Floyd: Everything Builds Toward Sunday

Daniel Darling: 5 Things a Daughter Needs to Hear from Her Dad

Out of Ur: The Beards of Ministry

I have never yet known a marriage to fail where the couples had – or had acquired – the habit of praying aloud together. – Norman Vincent Peale

Do you have any shout-outs to give? Have you read something this week that you want to share? Join the conversation in the comments section. 

Grateful for 40 Years of a Blessed Life

Today, the Lord has blessed me to see my 40th birthday.

I am in shock that I am now 40. Where in the world did the time go? Let me think about it…

  • I have been following Jesus for 34 years.
  • I have been preaching the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ for 29 years.
  • I have been pastoring God’s people for 23 years.
  • I have been married for more than 14 years.
  • I have been a father for 13 years.

Yep. I guess 40 years makes sense, after all.

The Lord has been good to me. I am saved forever by God’s amazing grace. I have a loving wife and children. I have a great family and wonderful friends. I am privileged to be a herald for the Lord Jesus Christ. I serve a precious congregation of saints. And I enjoyed many open doors to serve others for Christ’s sake. Can a man be more blessed?

I do not know what the future holds. But I have absolutely confidence in the sovereignty, wisdom, and goodness of God.

May the Lord help me to number my days and live wisely, faithfully, and obediently, and fruitfully.

I heard somewhere recently that when a man gets into his forties, he should strive to use his influence to build up others. I am not sure about that statement. I would say that we should use our build up others in whatever season of life we are in. But to whatever degree that point is especially true for this season of life, I want it to be my experience.

Lord, you have blessed my life in so many ways. Please make me a blessing to others for your glory.

 Thanks for your kind birthday expressions. I greatly appreciate it.

Notes from Sunday – 02/10/13

Happy birthday to my mother, Ellen Charles!

If the Lord let’s me see tomorrow, I will 40-years-old. Yikes! My children keep assuring me that they still love me even though I am now an old man.

My wife made sure I had a great birthday weekend. She’s the best. And thanks to my three partners in crime for hanging out with the old man.

Last Sunday, I publicly predicted the 49ers would win the Super Bowl. I tried to ignore last weekend even happened. But the saints wouldn’t let me forget it today. A member who is out of town asked her father to make sure to remind me that the 49ers lost!

safe_image.php_In my Bible Study Fellowship group, I completed my study of 1 Timothy 3:1-7, which gives the spiritual qualifications for elders.

Our children’s choir sang in our second service. Then my daughter, Natalie, took the microphone. My first response was, “They just did two songs. What’s going on?” Then she asked the congregation to join her in singing happy birthday to her dad. I had to switched moods quickly. Very sweet.

I am glad to have met some of the guests who joined us in worship today.

We baptized two persons today. Praise God.

I continued my Family Matters series with a message on “The Importance of Spiritual Compatibility” from 2 Corinthians 6:14-16a.

I endeavored to get across that it is unbiblical and unwise for a Christian to marry a non-Christian.

Kathy Keller, wife of pastor and author, Tim Keller, wrote an excellent an excellent article on this subject: Don’t Take It From Me: Reasons You Should Not Marry an Unbeliever.

This is the first time in a while that I did not have explicit points in my message. I tackled the text and subject with a series of questions. I hope it was clear.

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

Next Sunday, I plan to continue this series with a message on Matthew 19:3-10, entitled, “What Jesus Says About Divorce.”

After worship, Crystal and the staff hosted a small reception. I enjoyed taking pictures with the members who came down to wish me happy birthday.

The week after the Super Bowl, reality sets in. Football season is over.

My Miami Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers this afternoon. What can I say about LeBron James? He is on a roll.

The Clippers rebounded from their loss in Miami Friday night by going to New York and taking down the Knicks.

So, basically, no one wants to be #1 in college basketball. Bring on March Madness!

How was your Sunday? How did your teams do this weekend? Join the conversation in the comments section. 

Saturday Shout-Outs: RAAN, 40th Birthday, & Ministry Links

Saturday Shout-outs is my weekly bulletin board where I make note of the things that caught my attention over the course of the week.

Thanks for reading my blog this week. You can sign up for email updates of future posts under the picture to the left.

I am celebrating my 40th birthday this weekend. My birthday is Monday. I was born about 2 hours away from being born on the same day as my mother, whose birthday is Sunday, February 10.

I saw my two favorite basketball teams play this weekend. The Miami Heat crushed the Los Angeles Clippers. Repeat!

The Reform African-American Network posted a written interview with me this week. You can read it here. 10 Guidelines for Avoiding Indecent Exposure in the Pulpit by H.B. Charles, Jr.

A shout-out to Tim Challies for linking to my article, “On Sermon Illustrations,” this week on his blog.

Audio/Video now available from Desiring God’s 2013 Pastor’s Conference

The Gospel Coalition: You asked: Should I get ‘Re-Baptized’? (Credobaptist Answer)

Ray Pritchard: “Who Is That Man?” Free Lenten Ebook 

CCEF: Counselor Self-Disclosure: How Much Should I Talk about Me? 

Barnabas Piper: Should We Cheer for God?

Thom Rainer: Nine Characteristics of Happy Churches

Trillia Newbell: Beyonce’: Power or Bondage?

Justin Taylor: An Interview with Lecrae on PBS

Marci Turner: Unequally Yoked: What to do when your husband is an unbeliever 

Steve McCoy: Advice for Parenting Young Kids

The exegetical process doesn’t end with understanding; it ends with application. Preaching is not just about “this is what this means”; it is also about “this is what it means to live in light of what this means.” – Paul David Tripp

Do you have any shout-outs? Have you read something this week worth sharing? JOin the conversation in the comments section.