The First, Eighth, and Thirty-First

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  • I am still recovering from yesterday. I feel like one pastor who I heard say, “I spend four months in church every Sunday.” Most Sundays are long days for me. But yesterday was unusually so. For starters, my Saturday did not go as I planned. That’s my fault. But my anxious Saturday followed my into Sunday. And I really wasn’t as mentally alert as I usually am. In fact, I locked myself into my office an hour before Sunday School and typed out notes for myself to take to the pulpit. I write out my messages word for word each week, but I usually do not take any notes to the pulpit with me. When I do, I don’t think I handle it very well. And I don’t think my congregation does, either. So I have begun to type out notes to myself on half-sheets and stick them into my Bible, when I really need them. And I really needed them yesterday. My mind was just not focused enough for me to stand there comfortable without any notes in front of me. But, all in all, God blessed us to have a good day of worship and fellowship.

    In my Sunday School class, I began a series of lessons that I am calling, ” True Community through Mutual Care.” It’s basically a series on the “one another” statements of the New Testament. Yesterday, I did the first lesson in the series on “Loving One Another.” I actually did not get passed the first point of the lesson. It may have been a result of my trouble concentrating, but I my mind kept drifting to passages that discuss the love of God for us. Of course, God’s love for us is often given in scripture as the motive for our love for another. I was just supposed to make that point and move on. But I ended up spending the entire hour on the point, basically. So I will finish up that lesson next Lord’s Day, God willing.

    In our corporate worship service, I continued my series on the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). I preached the eighth commandment: “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15). I called it, “Get it Right!” The presentation of the message was kind of difficult for me, having the notes in front of me. I am not used to having notes with me, so I kind of just preach as if they are not there. But then when I need them to remember something, I have to do some scanning to find what I wanted to say. And if the Lord doesn’t keep my mind during all of this, I can totally lose my train of thought. The Lord was faithful. And I was able to get out most of the key points that I wanted to say, even though I don’t think I said it was clearly as I would have like. But the congregation was attentive and responsive. I trust they were helped by the message.

    Yesterday afternoon, we joined Mt. Moriah in celebrating Pastor Melvin Wade’s 31st pastoral anniversary. Our kids left us after the morning service. And I was not scheduled to preach. So Crystal and I goofed off together. I got out of the wet clothes I was in. And we took a long drive to a restaurant Crystal likes. There was a time when she would have to drag me to this restaurant kicking and screaming. But now, I like the place too. We had a long, leisurely meal. Then I talked Crystal into driving us to church, while I took a nap. About 10 minutes away from the church, my phone started ringing. I turned off the ringer and went back to sleep. But Crystal’s phone began to ring. She answered it. And it was for me. The news was that Dr. R.A. Williams, who was scheduled to speak, was not feeling well. So they needed me to preach. I laughed. Told them I would be there in a few minutes. And went back to sleep. I really did think it was a joke. But it wasn’t. I was “drafted” to bring the afternoon message. And in the middle of my message, a woman became ill in the service. I freaked me out. The congregation was distracted. My instincts were telling me to stop and pray. And the men in the pulpit were telling me that they had it under control and to keep preaching. So I kept on preaching. But I never recovered my focus in the message. The congregation was very gracious and prayerful. But I gave them a highly edited version of the message and got into my seat as quickly as I could.

    Today, I took the morning off to get some rest and spend some time with my wife. We had breakfast together and ran a few errands, before she dropped me off at the office. I have staff meeting shortly. Then I am going to go home to have dinner with my wife and kids. Then I have to get ready to preach the chapel service at the Los Angeles Bible Training School. Then I have to pack and get ready myself ready for my flight to Little Rock in the morning. I will be preaching for Pastor Robert Townson at the St. Peter Baptist Church Tuesday through Thursday. Please remember to cover me and my family with believing prayer as I travel to preach over the next several weeks.


    H.B. Charles Jr.

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