Easter is upon us! The most exciting, life-changing news EVER was spoken by an angel outside an empty tomb: “HE IS NOT HERE…HE IS RISEN!”
We have the joy and opportunity to share that news with people from around our community and this area on Sunday, April 5. Our service times will be the same with one additional service and two locations.
We will be meeting first at 8:00 am. This will be a service format that will be repeated again at 9:30 and 11:00 in our worship center. Also at 9:30, we will have a more contemporary-themed service that will be more casual and will feature band driven worship music in the gym.
I will be preaching in each of the services, and am excited about what God is going to do. We are thrilled to have Brian Woofter here for his first Easter service with Fruit Cove as well!
As always, be aware that there will be many new people on campus that day, some for the first time. It would be my hope that we could give our guests the BEST parking places and the BEST seating for this Sunday. I ask that simply because I know that, among those visiting, some are looking for a church home and some will need Christ. I want us to put our BEST FOOT forward!
Let me encourage you again to SHARE CHRIST this Easter…bring a friend with you on Easter Sunday. Share Jesus with them using the “Three Circles” method (see www.fruitcove.com or download at “Life Conversation Guide” in the app store).
We can’t wait for the celebration of an Empty Cross and an Empty Tomb. We will worship with FULL HEARTS.
Controversy and consternation have again been stirred over the issue of the relationship of the LGBT community and the local church. A church in San Fransisco that claims membership in the Reformed Church of America has joined the company of two other large churches (one in Nashville and one in Seattle) in affirming homosexual behavior as acceptable. This came just before the Presbyterian Church (USA) affirmed their position of sanctioning same-sex marriage.
Can we even talk about this anymore? The last thing I want to do in this blog is throw more wood into an already overheated fire. But while my heart is not to stir a boiling pot, it is important that we keep finding our footing on solid rock in a moral landscape that seems to be made of quicksand. I am incredulous that pastors and churches are making decisions to affirm, endorse, and even to bless LGBT relationships as Biblically-based and God-blessed. I think with even a rudimentary reading of Scripture, the Bible still condemns such behavior, even as it condemns other sexual sins.
Once I was asked, “So do you think that homosexual behavior is more sinful than adultery?” Well OF COURSE not. But then I do not have an organized block of adulterers coming to me and asking for their behavior to be legitimized, tolerated and affirmed. I have never knowingly allowed church membership to a couple who were participating in an adulterous affair, much less been asked to publicly affirm their behavior.
Let me say clearly that I have never encountered a homosexual person that I didn’t like or care about. I certainly don’t believe there is a homosexual who ever lived that Jesus didn’t love enough to die for.
But belonging to a local church has implications. One implication is that you are “called out” (ecclesia in Greek) from the world. You are no longer walking and living in the desires of your lifestyle before Christ transformed you and called you to belong to the local church. You are empowered to be different from the world.
The churches and even denominations that have diluted their understanding of church or of what is required for church membership to accommodate the LGBT lifestyle, and even to celebrate it as normative and acceptable, have distorted not only the Bible, but the very purpose and defining tenets of the local church. Their morality is now defined by the authority of subjective opinions, more than by Scripture.
Any LGBT person is welcomed and encouraged joyfully to worship with Fruit Cove. I will fight to the extent of my authority in this church to ensure that. We do not inquire about sexual orientation at the door. We believe every person has the right to come to Jesus just as they are. We are not a church of sin-free people. But once we come and desire to formally participate in and align ourselves with the Body as a reflection of Jesus Christ, the requirements and expectations intensify. I am confident that Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we would have the right to live in homosexual relationships or any other sexually prohibited lifestyle for that matter. He died so we would be empowered to be different, and He expects His followers to be distinct.
We must take our stand like the man who built his house on a rock, not on shifting sand of changing cultural morals. We can rest assured that the storm will batter and the waves of cultural criticism will threaten. But our house is built on the Rock.
And if that is so, whatever comes…the house will stand.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to perform the wedding ceremony of my neighbors (who are not Christians). It was one of the coolest things I have done in a while. The best part was being able to share the gospel with them. I had some observations from the wedding:
1- Everyone understands love it is not solely a Christian thing. The Bible tells us that God is love, this I do know. I also know that love is shared among those who are not Christians. I do not totally understand the theology behind it all, but to belittle their love is to belittle their entire being as a person.
2- NON-Christians don’t want to only hear the gospel, they want to see it. We share the gospel with words, we show the gospel with grace. A Southern Baptist preacher sharing the gospel and performing a ceremony in front a crowd of drunk people may not be ideal, but it makes a point. The point: you matter, I care about you.
3- Other people have convictions. They have a system of rights and wrongs that matter to them. Having life experiences and being raised a certain way helped create these convictions. To frown upon their personal convictions does not make you more Godly or them more open to hear the gospel.
4- EVERYONE has a story. The bride and groom cared very little for the fact that I went to church; they cared greatly about the fact that I had a story. They cared about my story because they have story to tell as well. Their story, at least to this point, just hasn’t been changed by the gospel… yet.
5- The Bible has value in the lives of Non-Christians. Reading 1 Corinthians 13, Genesis 2 and Romans 5 at a wedding in front a group of people without visible faith was incredible. Having the bride and groom like, and then get excited about hearing the Bible read was even better.
6- You don’t have to drink champagne to fit in, sweet tea works fine (and tastes better). Non-Christians with their “devil’s juice” do not expect you to be someone you are not, nor change your convictions for them (see #3.) Not once was I viewed through some sort of narrow lenses as to why I wasn’t drinking alcohol.
7- Christians are awkward. When the Bible says Jesus hung out with and ate with sinners, it doesn’t say he stood in the back while everyone drank wine awkwardly. It alludes to him being there in the middle of it. We will never be taken seriously if we stand against the back wall with judgmental eyes. Rather, we must step out, sit at the table with “sinners,” and join them in conversation. Maybe even get on the dance floor with them.
8- No one cares that you are a Christian, or for me a Pastor, until you care that they are a person. Christians must remember we aren’t selling something. Jesus isn’t Arbonne.
9- Hearing Tom Petty & the Heart Breakers at the ceremony was surprising and fun. Hearing Journey made me laugh. Hearing Savage Garden made me cover my ears. Hearing Switchfoot reminded me why I was there.
10- Non-Christians do not understand our Christian vernacular and way of speaking. It is almost a different language to someone who doesn’t go to church. Christians sound goofiest when they speak in Christian jargon. Please stop.
11- My faith mattered to them, and I was respected for it.
12- When others know you care about them, and you choose to serve them first, they might be more willing to hear you out. And potentially more acceptable to the gospel.
13- Non-Christians have friends who are also non-Christians. Non-Christians have family who are also non-Christians. Non-Christians have co-workers who are also non-Christians.
This blog post was written by Joshua Glymph, High School Pastor at Fruit Cove Baptist Church. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have all had the experience of standing before a great masterpiece of art; a painting or sculpture, that is regarded as moving or classic. Perhaps you’ve seen a Monet, or you’ve viewed a classic sculpture by Michelangelo in a foreign country. No matter what we have created as human beings, no work of art surpasses the greatness of the portrait painted on Mt Calvary the day that Jesus was crucified: a portrait of grace.
Consider the canvas. The canvas on which this portrait of grace was painted was an old rugged cross. Two pieces of wood intersected to serve as the instrument of death and suffering and shame on which our Savior died for OUR sins.
Consider the subject. The subject of this portrait is the sinless Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. On that cross Jesus was nailed and hung to die as His lifeblood flowed away. He died an agonizing (literally an excruciating…”out of the cross”) death. He died that death may die that day with Him and for all who would come to believe in Him.
Consider the painter. Who is responsible for this portrait? Who would dare sign his name to such a work? The artist was none other than God. He painted this picture. He showed us in the flesh of His only begotten son how deeply He loves us. He painted this portrait with the spotless blood of His beloved and perfect Son.
Have you ever allowed the impact of this portrait to sink into your soul? Are you aware that it was painted for YOUR salvation? Have you ever asked the author to forgive your sins and enter your life? He’ll save you today if you will “confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.” That’s the reason the portrait was painted. That’s the reason the Son of God suffered and bled and died.
Mission Jax is where middle and high school students spend a week (Monday-Saturday) on mission to meet needs of people and organizations within the community. Each day, teams of students and leaders provide the resources necessary to complete projects in Jacksonville and the surrounding communities,
Over the years the infrastructure behind serving the city has been modeled after Acts 1:8. At the beginning of the week, the focus is on the things on or closest to church campuses in Fruit Cove, FL. Work on church grounds, widows and the elderly within the community become the focus of the first few days. After this we extend out to the city of Jacksonville. Over the years we have developed relationships with Trinity Rescue, Sulzbacher Center, Duval Police, Murray Hill Theater, Ronald McDonald House, Quigley House, Home Again St. Johns, and many more. This rewarding service combined with the impactful worship and organic teaching (combination of youth pastors) in the evenings each day has proven to have a lasting impact on our students and their Christian worldview. The potential impact of Christ on this city is limitless.
“…they were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)
Does it really matter whether or not we attempt to share our faith? Isn’t it just enough that we accept what God says and then just try and live out our belief? There are several misconceptions about this that prevent us from effectively talking to people about our faith.
Myth One is that, whether we share our faith or not, people will not die and go to Hell. We may embrace this myth because we really REALLY don’t believe there is a literal, eternal Hell that people will go who have rejected Christ in this life. But if there is no literal Hell, then neither did there need to be a literal cross for Jesus to suffer and die upon.
Myth Two is the acceptance of a politically correct practice of religion that doesn’t “push” it on someone who may differ with us. We are penalized and intimidated more because of this assumption than almost any other. While I have a problem with anyone “pushing” anything on anyone, I certainly do not believe it to be wrong to share from our heart what the Lord has done for us and to try lovingly to persuade them to accept it.
Myth Three is problematic for several reasons. It implies that, “If we simply live our faith genuinely then people will just see and know that Jesus died for them.” Wrong on several counts. It is wrong, first, because it presumes that you can live out your faith clearly enough that people will see Christ well enough to believe in Him. You can’t. They won’t. While it is very true that we must be consistent in our lifestyle and profession, the transmission of the Gospel from the New Testament on has required a VERBAL witness to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It is wrong, also, because if we manage to live a halfway decent life in front of a lost world, they will simply assume you are a moral, righteous, or nice person. Their default interpretation will not be that “they have been with Jesus.”
All to say, WE MUST SHARE CHRIST. We must tell people what He means to us. We must tell them at every open door we are given. We must STOP BEING SILENT because we are intimidated by political correctness, fear of reprisals personally or professionally, or temperamental backwardness.
I pray that ONCE, between now and Easter, you will have a chance to share your faith with a non-believing individual. If you don’t know how, please locate the “3 Circles” App (Life Conversations app) or go to our website at www.fruitcove.com to download it.
Sharing your faith WILL….CHANGE….YOU. And hopefully, another will see eternity change for them!
Last week we talked about how to have a “renewed mind” as an aspect of our daily experience of worship. It is through that renewal that we are transformed into the image of Christ moment by moment and day by day, and not be conformed to the mold of the world. (Romans 12:1-2)
The primary means of transformation comes as we input the Word of God into our thinking, our relationships, our worldview. There are actually five ways that we can get the Word into our lives:
1) We can DELIGHT IN IT everyday.
2) We can MEDITATE on it often
3) We can LISTEN to it preached
4) We can KEEP IT BEFORE US and WITHIN US
5) We can READ IT and COMMIT IT to memory
Each of these methods are dealt with in the Bible. It is the Word of God that is “living and active” that goes to work inside us, changing and transforming us into a new creation. While the potential of that transformation is always there, making it a reality is up to our commitment to input God’s Word into our lives.
We are to be a people made new by the blood of Christ but we are also to have the mind of Christ. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus….” Learning to think like Jesus, and thereby to LIVE like Jesus….is a lifetime pursuit and passion.
Let His Word dwell in you richly….and you will reap the dividends. It will change you….
Pastor Tim shared the 3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide this morning and challenged each of us to use this tool as a conversation starter to share the gospel with a friend or family member between now and Easter.
If you missed his presentation, take a few minutes and view this video to understand how it works: