A Strange trip from Canaan to Ephesus

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  • Every year, I go through my “annual homiletical crisis” – in which I really, really struggle in my preaching. For some reason, this year “crisis” (termed this purely on the basis of how I feel going through it) is taking place much earlier – it usually takes place well into the second half of the year. And it’s taking on a weird form this time around. I have been struggling to determine what to preach. When I land on a text or subject, my personal study time has been great. But I have also been struggling with turning my personal study and meditation into pulpit-ready messages.

    Leading up to the first quarter of 2007, I was able to prayerfully produce a “sermon card” for the church, in which I was gave the title and text for every message that I was schedule to preach at MSMBC from January through March. It was a first. And I was really looking forward to it becoming a new trend in my sermon preparation. However, since April, I have not been able to focus that clearly or think that far ahead. During this same time period, we have been in a relocation process as a church. And some of the pressure related to this season of our congregation’s life may be causing my homiletical clumsiness. Other than that, I don’t really have an explanation.

    This week, the struggle has taken an interesting turn – from Canaan to Ephesus. Since the beginning of April, I have been planning to begin an exposition of the Book of Joshua. I have given several starting dates. But I have missed them both. And this week marks the third time I have missed a planned starting date for Joshua. Last Sunday, I preached a passage out of Exodus with the intention that it would be my introduction, of sorts, to Joshua. And I have been working this week of Joshua 1:1-9. I even ordered several more commentaries this week to help my studies. And I was working on Joshua as late as yesterday afternoon. But once again, my work just came to a halt. I stopped and prayed. Then I began to read through and study a passage from Ephesians. I began preaching through Ephesians last year. But I broke the series during the summer, intending to get back to it at some later date. I guess Ephesians was on my mind this week because I am scheduled to speak at a men’s retreat Friday and Saturday, and I am planning to do three expositions from Ephesians. And earlier this week, a member asked me I was going to resume Ephesians. I thought it was ironic. Well, that’s what I am not working on for Sunday. Really, you can’t go wrong preaching about Jesus and our salvation in him. But these twists and turns have made it difficult to prepare to preach. Please pray for my sermon preparation work and preaching schedule. And pray that I am able to come out of whatever this is I am in – soon!

    God bless.


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.