A Brighter Day

Eileen and I came home from Birmingham encouraged. Very encouraged! What I feared would be exceptionally controversial was not controversial at all, and our denomination did the right thing. It’s never easy to admit “sin in the camp,” but real freedom comes only when we tell the truth. And I’m happy to report to you that the Southern Baptist Convention voted overwhelmingly to take a strong stand against both sexual abuse and racism – not just in words but in substantive action. Today is a brighter day for a denomination experiencing steady numerical decline. Now our 52,000 churches and congregations have a path forward.

What you need to know is this: individual churches that mishandle or cover up claims of abuse will be removed from the SBC.

The “lawyer” in me must also inform you that these constitutional amendments must be ratified by a two-thirds vote next year in Orlando, but – based on the historical movement I just observed – I think that’s just a technicality at this point. I can remember, not too many years ago when the SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis was nearly tone deaf to the pleas of a woman who claimed former sexual abuse by SBC church leaders. Tone deaf no longer! By God’s grace and for His glory, we’ve come a long way. We must, like President J.D. Greear articulated so well at this year’s meeting, admit that the media actually did our convention a huge favor by “shining light on this evil.” Speaking to whom evangelicals often refer to as “the secular media,” Pastor J.D. said: “You are not our enemy.”

Monday I was invited to a late-night rollout of the Caring Well Challenge, which has been diligently put together with tremendous input from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. It’s a local-church plan for training church leaders on the ground to prevent abuse. Eileen has agreed to lead First Baptist Paducah through this Challenge. Please stay tuned – this will involve nearly all of us at one point or another.

I’ll steal another of Greear’s lines: this was a “defining moment … a very, very significant moment in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention.” Indeed it was. Indeed it is.

What I most loved was how unifying and worshipful was the climate at the convention center. You could feel the palpable sorrow in the room. You could see the tears, and hear the pain. But you could also sense the beginning of healing. Real healing I pray.

Though I graduated from an SBC seminary, in my early ministry years I was extremely reluctant to get involved in the SBC. In my mind and heart, the convention represented needless infighting over trivial matters that had little or nothing to do with the gospel of Christ. I’m so hoping I’m being proven dead wrong.

So you can imagine how encouraged I was by this year’s annual meeting theme: Gospel Above All. Amen and amen! As the messengers elected the most diverse slate of leaders ever in its history – in terms of age, race, ethnicity, and even geography – it felt like I was watching critical history unfold. It felt like the annual theme was being lived out, as the common denominator among all those women and men was nothing or no one but Jesus.

Friends, who could have imagined that the Houston Chronicle might be used by the Lord to help usher in – for a huge swath of God’s people here and now – a brighter day?

Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts


It was the largest ever airborne and amphibious invasion.

It turned the tide of Nazi occupation.

It turned the course of global history.

D-Day. 75 years have passed. This week we remember. At the landing beaches surrounding Normandy, and at the American Cemetery, veterans of World War II are being treated like heroes, as they should be. Indeed they were, and are, our heroes. I know that you’ve seen lots of photos, so I’ll choose only one: this was Wednesday’s celebration and military parade at Portsmouth, England.

President Donald Trump said it remarkably eloquently yesterday morning, and I’m sure that his words will live on: “You are the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our republic. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.” France’s President Emmanuel Macron said it like this: “We know what we owe to you, veterans: our freedom.” Both men were spot on: an entire generation sacrificed that you and I might live in freedom.

Since 1995 I have carried with me the sense of horror that I experienced when I walked onto the grounds of Buchenwald concentration camp that summer. I was doing the tourist thing while Eileen, who worked for the U.S. government, did depositions in Berlin – so I was all alone in feeling what it must have been like when horses pulled German artillery into the rooms where victims were hung from hooks. Where men were told that they were going to receive needed medical treatment, only to be shot from behind in the back of the neck when they stood to have their height measured in the “clinic” – and where women left bloody patches all over the walls as evidence in the plaster of their desperate death throes. All while much of the world looked the other way.

The war would not end until September 2, 1945, but D-Day changed everything. It was the decisive victory, and all because the bravest of soldiers were willing to cross the English Channel, storm the fortified coastline, and defeat their “undefeatable” enemy!

So today I’m fixated on the “Operation Overlord” of June 6, 1944. In regard to D-Day itself, the Lutheran theologian Oscar Cullmann once wrote that “there is something about all this that has close resemblance to the Christian experience.” I agree. I’m not sure if I know exactly what he meant, but I’m going to give this a try.

First of all, the wounded and bleeding soldiers would have had no way to know that it was a victory. It certainly would not have felt much like a victory when you were dodging bullets! Have you ever had a day like that? Even when you know and believe the gospel, our daily trials don’t always feel like wins, do they?

Secondly, there would be many tough days ahead. The war was not over. There would be some real encouragement stemming from the results of D-Day, but there also would be more steep hills to climb. Can you relate? Every morning I pray for my family: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Why do I pray that? Because each new day, in spite of the promise that it holds, also brings with it a whole new crop of “dangers, toils, and snares” (borrowing from John Newton).

Thirdly, God Himself has invaded history! That’s the glory of what we, as Christ followers, hold dear: God has come to us! God is with us! God will be with us forever! He has proven that on the cross and in the empty tomb!

Lastly, our enemy is surely defeated. Though we can’t see that win fully yet, final victory has been assured. Christ has “secured an eternal redemption” for us (Hebrews 9:12). He has paid our sin debt in full. “The ruler of this world has been cast out” (John 12:31). The devil may make a lot of noise ‘round here, but he’s as good as done. Because Christ lives in and through us, who are forever His people, the Prince of Darkness is going down like a drunken fighter. Not only that, but the Bible promises that you and I are being set free by the Spirit to live a new life of righteousness and joy (John 6:38-39; 10:10; First John 3:8; and so many other verses that I can’t cite them all).

So you and I have all kinds of freedom to celebrate this week!

Christ Jesus is the Overlord, friends. He is, and forever will be, Lord over all.

Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts

Spelling Bee-liever?

Just today, in an op-ed piece for NBC News via THINK, Megan Francis takes on the legitimacy of the spelling bee. Though Ms. Francis seems like a great mom who puts much thought, love, and care into the raising of her 10-year old daughter Clara, I’ll have to respectfully disagree with her conclusion: “I question [the spelling bee’s] usefulness as a regular, celebrated, school-wide event at the elementary-school level.”

Come on now.

My heart goes out to Clara and her mom. It really does. It’s no fun when you have to sit down after missing an important word. Or when you disqualify yourself because you’re such a pile of nerves that you can’t spell at all. Or when you have to re-live and re-live that one tragic spelling blunder that haunts you well into middle school.

It seems like yesterday. Mrs. Lockwood, my fourth-grade teacher, called out the word “donkeys” in the final round, and I confidently spelled it “d-o-n-k-i-e-s”. Then I heard it: Mrs. Lockwood looked at one of my two remaining opponents and said “donkeys”. I knew what that meant: I was done. Ouch. But you can bet your bottom dollar that the crucible of that spelling bee made a lasting impression on me. Believe me, I never misspelled “donkeys” again! Sure, the parents have to do a little seat-squirming, and the kids have to suffer a little embarrassment from time to time, but isn’t that pretty good practice for life? (I’ll even credit my love for spelling, at least in part, for my 2007 appearance on Wheel of Fortune, but that’s another blog for another day.)

I’m not trying to be insensitive here, y’all. I know that spelling doesn’t come easy to everybody, and I’m probably biased because it came easy for me, but I cringe every time I hear that we ought to throw out another of our childhood rituals. What could be inherently wrong, after all, with a good old-fashioned spelling bee?

O.K., so here’s the whole truth. About the same time that I was learning to be a decent speller, I also signed up for diving. Our small town was blessed with a retired Olympic diving coach, and he offered free lessons to every kid who wanted to learn. (I’ll include a pic of Coach “Moose” Moss at the pool he built out on his farm.) Well, I worked for a year to prepare for my first diving meet. The highest degree of difficulty for which I signed up was an “inward”. (You turn around at the edge of the diving board, jump backwards, and then quickly transition into a dive – while still facing the board.) Don’t be too impressed: I was only doing this from the low dive. (Why I’m admitting that to you I’m not quite sure.)

Anyway, it was the day of the diving meet, and my turn finally came. Our whole team was wearing green swimsuits, but mine seemed shinier than everybody else’s. The material was somehow a little off. You know how it goes when your mom didn’t exactly get your order right, but you just now notice it – when everybody’s watching. (When insecure and in doubt, blame your mom, right?) As I looked across the pool at the three judges assembled for the meet, I knew that this was going to be my shining moment! (The way it worked was this: about the time a diver came up out of the water, the three judges would announce their three scores – for everybody to hear.) So I completed my dive, with one slight problem: I didn’t quite complete my dive. I came up out of the water only to hear this – and in my mind it was breaking news heralded around the world: “Fail Dive” … “Fail Dive” … (wait for it) … “Fail Dive”. All three judges had declared it: I was no diver. (And I was never going to be a diver.)

But you don’t see me out writing op-eds against competitive diving, do you?

We each have our gift or gifts. The Apostle Paul made that point abundantly clear (First Corinthians 12:1-31), and I simply say “Amen.”

That same year, among other words more complex than “donkeys”, I learned to spell “phenolphthalein”. I’m not making this up – I was really proud of that word! In fact the mayor of our town, Willie B. Withers, gave me an old spelling primer – and in it Mayor Withers inscribed: “For Charles, the best speller in the country.” I never forgot that endorsement. I’m still proud of it.

I can sympathize with the parental angst of Ms. Francis, but surely there are kids like me who still need the spelling bee! There must be a connection between good spelling and rocket science. I’m absolutely certain of it.

By the way, who needs diving when you’re the best speller in the country?


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts

The Impossible Dream

Do you remember Don Quixote?

I guess I’m revealing my age by simply asking the question. Quixote was the “mad” knight in a play within a play, performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners. The Broadway hit ran for 2328 performances and won five Tony awards, including Best Musical. From it was born the song The Impossible Dream.

It was Don Quixote’s dream that made the tale. His appearance seemed ludicrous. Makeup and powder in his hair – gray and disheveled. A twisted piece of tree limb for a spear. A barber’s shaving bowl for a helmet of gold. An honorable knight or a fool? That was the point.

There are images of grace in the story, and all of that is well and good. But in the end the man is just a man. It’s kind of like the curtain-pulled-back reality check of The Wizard of Oz. Sometimes life reminds us just how fragile and finite we really are. For some reason, this has been that kind of week for me.

Don Cash, at the age of 55, just died at the top of Mount Everest. After reaching his seventh and final summit climbing the tallest mountain on each continent, Cash has departed this life. He was so passionate about mountain climbing that he left his job to join the “Seven Summits Club.” Mr. Cash lost fingers to frostbite on earlier adventures, and likely succumbed to a heart attack on Everest – the world’s tallest peak.

I guess there’s something in all of us that can identify with reaching for an “unreachable star.” That being said, when I’m really feeling my finiteness, I’m sure glad that I have something to stand on that’s more steady than an impossible dream.


From The Book of Common Prayer

“Everyone the Father gives to me will come to me;
I will never turn away anyone who believes in me.”

He who raised Jesus Christ from the dead
will also give new life to our mortal bodies
through his indwelling Spirit.

My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;
my body also shall rest in hope.

You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our brother, and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The Lord bless him and keep him, the Lord make his face to shine upon him and be gracious to him, the Lord lift up his countenance upon him and give him peace. Amen.


That’s called “The Committal,” and I use parts of it nearly every time I preside over a burial. Why? Because, for those of us who remain, it’s both a needed reality check and a source of incredible hope!

You see, dear friends, IN CHRIST we have it all. The only alternative to gospel grace is chasing after the impossible. But, IN CHRIST – even in the face of death – “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). In spite of every human weakness and frailty, IN CHRIST our countenance is lifted up … and we find peace.


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts

The Change Constant

We have to say goodbye to The Big Bang Theory.

The wildly popular show premiered on September 24, 2007, and for most of its run was primetime’s most-watched comedy series. In fact it remains one of the most successful sitcoms in television history – and the longest-running multi-cam comedy of all time. It even surpassed Cheers, which is hard to believe if you grew up when I did. The Big Bang Theory has generated an estimated $1 billion and counting in syndication. The series has received 52 Emmy Award nominations and ten wins, along with seven Golden Globe nominations. And the two-part series wrapper ended on a strong note in the metered markets last night.

12 years. 279 episodes. And the elevator finally got fixed.

Change is a universal constant. Perhaps that is the takeaway. And it’s a good one for us to ponder as this week draws to a close, because it’s true.

We think that it was the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who said it first: “The only thing constant is change.” That was before Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. What did Heraclitus mean? That there is nothing stable in the world around us. Planning a summer trip to the Smoky Mountains? Even those mountains are changing. It may take millennia, but they change. Slowly but surely their shape is altered by time and external forces.

And not only the world around us changes, but we change. Surely you’ve noticed that we’re changing. We change physically, mentally, morally, and even spiritually.

Because everything around us – and even in us – is changing, ancient pagans saw their gods as deceitful, unpredictable, arbitrary, and even scheming. In our popular culture, more and more people are questioning the existence of God, as you well know. Others – even some who consider themselves Christ followers – are expressing serious doubts about the reliability of the Scriptures. And, among those who truly believe in God, many understand little about who He really is. This kind of confusion and uncertainty inevitably leads to overwhelming feelings of insecurity.

But. But. But.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8. No more hopeful words were ever spoken! James says it like this (1:17): Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Talk about a Big Bang!

But here’s the problem with sin. It makes us seek after permanence and security not in the awesome God who created and loves us, but in things which are also changing. The search becomes futile, my friends, unless it ends in Christ.

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6).

In Christ.

Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts

The Old, Old Story

What makes a church a “success”? Are increasing knowledge and improving behavior the standards of achievement, or is there more to the story? Is a growing budget or an expanding array of programs the sign of life, or is there something more?

Sometimes I fear that we’ve all been duped. Sometimes I feel like we’re captivated by the wrong things, and blind to the things that really count. Maybe you can relate.

What is the real truth about the church? I would propose to you simply this: we are no stronger – no better, no more successful, no more faithful – than how much we love and live the gospel of Jesus.

What does this mean? It means that you and I are to be constantly anchored in a universal, cosmic history of grace. The gospel, we must remember, is God’s grand declaration that something awesome has happened! There at Christ’s cross, the kingdom of God has triumphed! And it was a decisive victory – validated and proclaimed by Christ’s resurrection! The world will never be the same, and neither will we.

Do we still love our story?

Do we still live our story?

Or have we somehow become subtly enamored of other stories instead? The stories of the world are never as good as our story, but sometimes we get hooked by them nonetheless.

How do we assess ourselves in this regard? I would propose some indicators.

  1. We still love our story if we’re full of praise. When I’m praising God, there’s less room for me. As it should be. If the gospel story does anything, it reminds me that I’m not at the center of the universe – Christ is.
  2. We still love our story if we recognize our own bankruptcy. The world says: “you can do it.” But we know better. Only Christ can accomplish anything of value in or through us. A gospel-saturated life never forgets who I’m not … and who He is.
  3. We still love our story if we find Christ exceedingly beautiful. It’s O.K. to enjoy something which God has given us, but do we admire the Giver more? This is not an easy mindset to maintain, so the gospel helps keep us on our knees.
  4. We still love our story if we’d rather give life away than keep it. That one stings a bit, at least for me. I recognize my own sinful tendency toward self-preservation and self-advancement. I need a regular gospel reminder that I’m on mission. I am becoming less, that Christ might become more.
  5. We still love our story if we care about the one who’s on the fringes. If I’m really living out the gospel of Jesus, then I’m always looking around – just like He did. Is there anyone who needs encouragement? Is there anyone whose heart is breaking? Is there anyone ready to give up? “Here I am; send me.”
  6. We still love our story if we can spot a phony story a mile away. Are we gospel-soaked? Only then can we discern when the wolf comes calling. Only then can we hear that still small voice. Only then can we see with eyes of faith what others can’t see: the gospel truth.
  7. We still love our story if we’re full of hope. The world and the headlines are full of terrible stuff. Stuff that can make all of us want to quit. But our gospel story speaks into that malaise as well, and it reminds us of this: there is a God, and He is always right, and He is always good. History is “his story,” and He wins in the end.

The British missiologist Lesslie Newbigin said it like this: “It is not sufficient for the Church to attend to tactics: she must first attend to truth.” May God anchor us firmly in His gospel truth. There we must stand. Live or die, there we stand. There, and there only, will we flourish. Perhaps “the old, old story” is what we’ve been missing.


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts


There is widespread suffering in the land of Venezuela. Massive demonstrations are overtaking the streets in some of the more urban areas, and protesters are being killed – including children. The scene is horrific on nearly every level. President Nicolas Maduro is hanging on to his brutal control of the country, at least for now, and the U.S. has not ruled out military intervention.

The United Nations has labeled the exodus of four million plus refugees “unparalleled” in South American history. What you and I are witnessing from a distance can only be described as one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern times. Desastre! That’s Spanish for “disaster.”

The suffering people of Venezuela are experiencing major power outages – complete blackouts – and the unavailability of everything that you and I take for granted: gasoline, car parts, groceries, and the like. Now there are crippling shortages of fresh water overtaking the nation. And I haven’t even mentioned medical care, which is becoming scarce. The nation is a complete disaster. I’m going to think twice the next time I’m tempted to complain about $3 gas.

And I am so very sad to report to you that young Venezuelan girls and women are prostituting themselves in order to survive. It seems that, wherever we turn in the world, human trafficking flourishes when poverty strikes. It is a desperate and deadly situation.

After a lifetime of ministry for Christ in the jungle, our friends Gary and Marie Dawson have decided to stay and serve in Venezuela! You may remember Gary and Marie from their visits to First Baptist Paducah over the last few years. Gary has preached here on a Sunday evening, and the two of them have shared their story in our Great Room. We’ve been able to taste their heart for gospel missions in a part of the world where missionary agencies have declared the territory too unsafe to penetrate.

If you’d like to supply some emergency relief for Gary and Marie, and for the desperate people whom they’re trying to serve in the name of Jesus, you can send a check (payable to Gary Dawson) to: Jeanne Bennett, 232 Bagwell Road, Roebuck, SC 29376

A couple named Dennis and Sandy have challenged the congregations who know the Dawson Family to lend a helping hand during this season of incredible crisis, and have offered to match dollar-for-dollar (up to $10,000) any contributions given by May 15, 2019.

Please, friends, pray for Venezuela. Just like us, the people need freedom and grace! The situation is dire, and the time is now.


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts

He Is

What are we to make of Sri Lanka? When tragedy strikes any part of the world, you and I are forced to re-think an appropriate Biblical response. With a death toll over 300 after the brutal Easter bombings, we are sadly reminded: For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved (Romans 8:22-24a).

Strange, isn’t it? Sadness gives birth to hope! Paul connects the two, and so must we.

Pain and suffering – and in fact the troubles of the whole world – remind us that it is one big broken system. A colossal mess stemming from the Fall. But this brokenness is not merely on a cosmic scale. Paul also draws our attention to our own personal brokenness as Christ followers. This inward groaning is not just because life is hard, but because we are so vividly aware of how much brokenness has been caused by sin. It is widespread and rampant. It is everywhere. Paradise has been lost.

Here and now, we’re awaiting a promised redemption. But look carefully at the text: we wait eagerly, friends! Among the members of the congregation in Rome, the mental picture of “firstfruits” would ring a bell. You don’t pick the first grapes if they’re still hard and bitter. “Firstfruits” aren’t even a thing until something is ripe. What in the world does this mean? It means that you and I have been given the Holy Spirit – God’s very best! By giving us Himself, He is promising also to give us the Spirit’s fruit when we need it. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control. These are not door prizes, y’all, but the very life of Christ!

So even when our hearts are ripped open by the troubles of this world, we who are in Christ can navigate according to a higher vision. We know how it will end. We know the rest of the story.

Not too long ago, our choir brought us the poignant words of Andrew Peterson …

Do you feel the world is broken? We do.
Do you feel the shadows deepen? We do.
But do you know that all the dark won’t stop the light from getting through? We do.
Do you wish that you could see it all made new? We do.

Is all creation groaning? It is.
Is a new creation coming? It is.
Is the glory of the Lord to be the light within our midst? It is.
Is it good that we remind ourselves of this? It is.

Is anyone worthy?
Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave.

Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Of all blessing and honor and glory
Is He worthy of this?
He is!

Does the Father truly love us? He does.
Does the Spirit move among us? He does.
And does Jesus our Messiah hold forever those He loves? He does.
Does our God intend to dwell again with us? He does.

Is anyone worthy?
Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave.
From every people and tribe
Every nation and tongue
He has made us a kingdom and priests to God
To reign with the Son.

Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Of all blessing and honor and glory
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Is He worthy of this?
He is!
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
He is! He is!

The shadows may be deepening, beloved church family, but so is the Light! The second Adam has re-opened Paradise! Sin and death have lost, and love has won! Yes! HE IS !!!


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts

Fusion Friday


This is often referred to as “Holy Week.” And rightly so. The days preceding our celebration of Christ’s glorious resurrection ought to be marked by powerful remembrances of the saving gospel of our Lord Jesus! By the middle of the fourth century, many of our traditions related to this week were already established within the Church.

Why is Christ’s passion so important? For starters, it’s because that’s exactly what Christ demonstrated. That word “passion” can be found in Acts 1:3, where the Scriptures record that Jesus presented himself alive after his suffering

My point is that there can be no real celebration of Christ’s resurrection without a real acknowledgment of Christ’s suffering and death. Every day mattered that week, and every day matters this week. On Palm Sunday, as Jesus rode into Jerusalem, every minute was packed with potent symbolism of King Jesus and His reign of peace. On Monday Jesus cleansed the temple, again demonstrating His kingdom authority and His unquestionable Lordship over every nation. And on it went. Thursday would include the Lord’s Supper, connecting the first Passover with our own deliverance from bondage. But every moment raced toward the sacrificial death of Christ.

And that would come on Friday: “Good Friday” as we often refer to it. On Calvary’s Cross, Jesus was forsaken so that you and I won’t be forsaken! By the shedding of Christ’s own blood, a new and eternal covenant would be ratified on our behalf. Commenting on this grand reality, Dr. D. A. Carson calls this moment “the fusion of divine, royal prerogative and Suffering Servant.” Wow!

If I want to get the most out of this week, I must REHEARSE the gospel. The old song got it right: “Jesus paid it all.” All. I contribute nothing but desperate need. Another old song went like this: “He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay.”

If I want to get the most out of this week, I must REFLECT upon my own need for a Savior. The Cross of Christ is my reminder that I’m not O.K., and it’s your reminder that neither are you. We need a new justice, a new righteousness, and a new power for living.

If I want to get the most out of this week, I must RECOGNIZE the inauguration of a new humanity. Christ’s resurrection is hope for me because the living Church – Christ’s own bride – is the most incredible reality on earth! Every time we gather, you and I can enjoy a taste of heaven.

If I want to get the most out of this week, I must REMEMBER my own finiteness. I’ll say it like this, simply: they would lay down their palms, but He would lay down His life.

If I want to get the most out of this week, I must RESPOND to the grace of God. Worship is in order, friends. What else could we do upon hearing and believing such good news?

If I want to get the most out of this week, I must REJOICE in my being numbered forever among the redeemed! Yes, “Fusion Friday” does put me squarely in my place. But there’s nowhere else that I would rather be.

I look forward to seeing you Friday evening at 6:30 in our worship center.


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts

No One

As I’m here in Texas to officiate at my niece’s fantastic wedding festivities, and just coming off of our own celebration of twenty-five years, I’m thinking a lot about marriage, family, and eternity. So I’ll send you an old pic (us) and a new pic (them).

Whether we’re young and idealistic or seasoned and cynical, marriage for the long haul requires a zealous and sacrificial love (Romans 12:9-18). To “live in harmony with each other” will at times test every fiber of one’s being, but our Lord never calls us to something for which He does not also promise to provide us with the required strength to complete the assignment.

When God calls us into covenant marriage with another believer, He calls us into a very good thing! That is because we serve a good God, and He delights in sharing His bountiful goodness with us (Psalm 145). As God is gracious and merciful to us, and as He extends His hand to provide for us every day and in every season, we reflect His own goodness by our mercy and grace toward each other. By doing what is right for each other. By faithfully being who we need to be for each other. This is a powerful and incarnational love made reality by the Holy Spirit in us.

And I’ll add one more thought about marital love. We have to choose, at least some days, to wear it. If we have eyes to see, Jesus is right here with us when we least expect it. Just like the eyes of two weary travelers on the road to Emmaus had to be opened and revived (Luke 24:31), so do ours. Our Savior is on the road with us. He is in our ups and downs, and He is sovereign over every nuance of our journey. Even the road map is His. Christ knows what’s coming over the next hill, so we can know that ultimately ALL IS WELL.

Let “no one” rob another person of this amazing portrait of Christ’s love for His bride, the church. That is not my counsel. It is the warning of Jesus (Mark 10:9). It is a sobering word, but it a word full of grace. You and I thrive only when we do things God’s way, and God wants us to thrive!

Briana and Brandon, and all of the rest of you who will soon be in the thick and thin of real-life challenges to those vows which you have made, hang in there! It’s worth it. Because right now counts forever.


Pastor Charles

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