Month: November 2014

Who’s Lottie?

Who’s Lottie?

Each year, Fruit Cove, along with thousands of other baptist churches, collect and send our “Lottie Moon Christmas Offering” to the International Mission Board to fund missions around the world. But, who is this “Lottie Lady” and what made her special?

Nearly 140 years ago, this young lady from Virginia committed her life to taking the gospel to China. Her passion to share Christ became the inspiration for our annual missions offering emphasis.

Take a few minutes today and follow this link to discover “Who’s Lottie?”

Lightbearers, Ferguson and Peace

As I write this column, Ferguson, Missouri is in flames.  The anger, the shouts of injustice, and smoke from burning cars and buildings fill the air in this normally sedate Midwestern town.  Police and other law enforcement agencies seem helpless to quell the tension and to fully protect the property and citizenry.

I realize we can never fully enter into the decision that drove officer Wilson to fire on Michael Brown.  We cannot fully appreciate or understand the dynamics of that moment.

I realize that, as a conservative, white male in America I have never fully felt the sting of prejudice or the pain of injustice as many who have fought for civil rights in our nation have had to endure.   Clearly, the racial divide in America has not gone away.

And I realize that, as a father, I cannot walk deeply into the valley of the shadow of death as Michael Brown’s parents have been forced to do as they grapple with being the parents of a child taken from them by violence.

But as a believer in and follower of the Lamb of God I realize that, in this day of cultural change and ultimately cultural collapse, the urgency of our message has never been greater.  We have a message of peace that is the answer for the violence and chaos of Ferguson, Mo and every home, every workplace, every school and every streetcorner where violence and darkness seem to rule the day.  The Prince of Peace is the answer that we need. Ferguson, Missouri needs it.  So do Kabul and Jerusalem and Miami and Jacksonville.

Will we be carriers of the message….purveyors of Peace in a violent world?  Or will we shrink back from telling the Good News to those who need it most in these urgent and troubling times?

May the fires of Ferguson fuel a flame in each of us that moves us forward with THE message of Peace….the only answer.

His name shall be Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

Gratitude

Gratitude.  We all run low on gratitude.  Either we are low on RECEIVING gratitude that we may feel (sometimes grudgingly) is owed to us or we are low on the GIVING end (as Jesus found nine of the ten healed lepers being).

Gratitude.  There’s a shortage going round.  One of the key (overlooked) signs that we are in the last days is the sign of a shortage of gratitude!

Gratitude.  It’s not a take it or leave it commodity.  Our relationships grind to a halt, or at least to a friction-filled slowdown, without it.  Being thanked once in a while really is important.

Gratitude.  We have much to be grateful for.  On a recent return trip to our country, I found myself reflecting more than usual about how grateful I am for our freedoms, our privileges, our security, and our access to so many blessings.  I found myself overcome by gratitude.

Gratitude.  It’s one thing to feel it…another to express it.  If you are grateful, tell the person to who you are grateful.  If you appreciate what another does or says, let them know you really do appreciate them.

Gratitude.  The Son of God knew that He had done something that deserved appreciation, respect, gratitude and applause.  And maybe the nine lepers who walked away with newly regenerated skin were grateful.  They just didn’t say it.  Isn’t that just as bad?

Gratitude.  Teach your children to be thankful, parents.  Show them what it sounds like.  Expect them to EXPRESS it when you do something nice for them.  Maybe they’ll pass it on to others.

Gratitude.  Don’t leave home without it.  Someone is waiting on it…today.

“Give thanks to the Lord….for He is good.”

 

Upward Flag Football Celebration – 2014

We celebrated our final day of the Upward Flag Football Season yesterday. With games, food and of course flag football, the kids, coaches, parents, grandparents and friends had a great time! Here’s a peek at what happened.

Thanks Marc Krevo.

A big thanks to Kevin Gates and Derek Ashford for their leadership during this interim period in our SportsLife ministry. Thanks also to all who served as coaches, officials, and all the other support roles to make this season a success.

P.S. Continue to pray for Neil Muniz and family as they transition to join our team in December.

Our Thanksgiving Weekend Service

Join us as we celebrate Thanksgiving

We will have our Celebrate! Wednesday morning service at 10am on November 26 in the Worship Center.  There will be no other activities on Wednesday and the office will close early.

Sunday, November 30, we will have Sunday School at 9:30am for our preschoolers while we gather as one family in the Worship Center for Sunday School led by Rick Wheeler from the Jacksonville Baptist Association.  The Lord’s Supper and Baptism will follow at 11:00am.

The office will be closed Thanksgiving Thursday, November 27 and Friday, November 28.  We will reopen Monday, December 1.

On Death With Dignity: Overcoming to the end.

Does Brittany Maynard’s decision to die with dignity in Oregon really mean anything to you?  How can a young woman diagnosed with brain cancer on the other side of the country affect your life where you live and breathe today?  Should we care?  Do you?

The “death with dignity” debate has brought to the forefront disparate groups of people on both sides of the issue.  On one hand, there are those who see her decision to “die on her own terms” as brave, even heroic as a gesture. They would advocate the administration of drugs underwritten by government funds to “hasten the end” of a suffering person (insert “Alzheimer’s patient,” “baby with birth defect,” or “person averse to suffering”).  After all, no one has to suffer if they don’t want to, right?

On the other hand are those represented by the Vatican’s statement that Brittany’s actions were an “absurdity.”   But can we write her situation off and dismiss her as an anomaly, or are other people waiting to walk in her footsteps?  And after all, brain cancer is a horrific illness.  I watched my own father die with it.  “So what do we say to these things,” as Paul eloquently asked the Romans.  How do we respond to a situation that falls somewhere between absurd and logical?

Let me be personal.  Was there a value in my father’s dying?  I watched day by day, sometimes up close and sometimes at a distance as the man I knew and loved gradually slipped away in confusion, and perhaps in pain.  We really couldn’t tell, because my Dad was the kind of guy that wouldn’t have admitted it had he felt it.  I watched the loving sacrifice of his wife, my Mom, as she walked with him through the toughest miles of their marriage.  She would sit for hours holding his head on her lap in the nursing home where he spent his last weeks on earth.  She would slip headphones on him so he could listen to tapes of Bill Gaither’s Homecoming and block out the cries and chaos of that place.  Would my Mom trade those last days with my Dad?  Would she wish them to be hastened along by a “merciful” intervention from a doctor who has rejected the Hippocratic Oath? She never said. But I think not. Because love doesn’t walk away in the midst of the fire.

It stays.

“What can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord?”  Absolutely nothing.  So what do we say to those who are standing in the midst of the fiery trial of suffering with an invasion of cancer or the robbery of Alzheimer’s?  Do we tell them to walk away?  That God doesn’t believe in His Creation suffering?  That pain has no purpose and no place in His plan?  “No, in all these things we are super conquerers” through Jesus Christ.  But the conquerer doesn’t leave until the battle has ended.  Deserters are never given medals.  Neither do they know the joy of conquest.  The overcomer doesn’t walk away from the fight.   And neither should we.

 

2014 Fall Middle School Retreat

Once again, Valdosta, GA and points in between will never be the same. Check out this video from the Fall Middle School Retreat!

P.S. No animals, Middle Schoolers or Tore were harmed in the making of this video.

Living Deeply

In his book THE FIGHT, John White says, “Tough times will either make you or break you.  If you are not utterly crushed by them, you will be enlarged by them.  The pain will make you live more deeply and expand your consciousness of God.”

There are two ways to go through life.  We can go through life like a snorkeler, living on the surface and seeing some things at a distance, or we can live like a diver, swimming beneath the waves and experiencing life in a way the snorkeler never does.

Living deeply is our desire. Living deeply means we live more and more in reliance upon God. (Romans 5:3-5)

But living deeply comes with a cost.  Avoiding pain and difficult leads us to a shallow life, a shallow character, a shallow faith.  We aspire to have the character of Christ  formed in us but for that character to be fully formed God must chip away those things in our lives that don’t look like Jesus.  The “chipping away” is painful.

Christ taught us how to live deeply in the times of testing.  As He hung upon the cross, dying for our sins, the book of Hebrews said “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame…”

Our focus must be on the end result of our struggle, not on the pain itself.  It is Christ’s desire to bring us “life, and that more abundantly.”  That’s living more deeply.  That’s walking with Christ in the fellowship of His suffering.  And that’s where we meet Jesus most powerfully.

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