Month: July 2017

Come Into His Presence

I heard this week from someone that gratitude is the key that unlocks the blessing that God wants to give His children. In times of trial and difficulty, it becomes too easy to overlook the simple expression of heartfelt gratitude that needs to be spoken and heard. This is, for the moment, the best vehicle I have for getting that gratitude delivered.

It is absolutely overwhelming for us to experience the blessing and generosity of Fruit Cove Baptist Church. While the greatest gift you have and are giving us is the gift of understanding my need to be away from my duties while Pam is ill, so many other gifts come with that. I am grateful for a staff team and willing to step up and step out in support, prayer, encouragement, and in the fulfilling of extra responsibilities while I am away.

I am grateful time after time for warm and thoughtfully prepared (and delivered) meals each day. Overwhelmingly so, if I am not overusing that word. We have been the recipients of countless gifts of flowers and fruit and gift baskets and gift cards. We have, again, lost count of the greeting cards and thoughtful statements posted though Facebook and text.

But let me circle back again. I am grateful to you… each of you… and to you as a body for giving me the freedom and incredible gift of time with Pam in these hard days. You are an amazing congregation and “I thank my God on every remembrance of you.”

So blessed and privileged to be your pastor. Pam and I love you so very much

From Heaven’s View

Perspective changes everything. A few years ago, my son and I had the opportunity to go on patrol with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office helicopter unit. We flew over the city at night… and from the air it was breathtaking. Much different than the perspective of the city I have looking out my car window stuck in construction or rush hour traffic. Same city… different view.

Perspective changes everything. In 2008, a friend of mine gave me a book and said, “You need to read this. It really helped me through a tough time.” Now this happens to me often. I just received a 608 page book from the author who wanted me to read and review it for him “in my spare time” (!)

The title my friend handed me in 2008, was written by T.W. Hunt and titled, From Heaven’s View. It was a deep book and, at the time, one I felt unnecessary. But perspective changes everything.

And I have found myself these days very much in need of the insights in that volume. How do we manage and even find joy in times of sorrow, suffering and grief? By having the right perspective… for the Christian it is having a heavenly one.

From heaven’s view, our trials can turn to gold. Our sufferings become the “filling up of the sufferings of Christ.” Our pain and hardship become “not worthy to be compared to the glory to be revealed.” Our tears are kept in a bottle by God… not one is lost or wasted. Our time here… though moments may drag slowly by… is nothing to be compared to eternity awaiting us.

From heaven’s view, our sorrows and struggles are used to “conform us to the image of Christ.” Our suffering is not meant to crush us, but to create in us “endurance, and… endurance, hope.”

From heaven’s view, hope becomes not, “I hope so” but “I know so.” Hope is not rooted in a desired change of circumstance, but in the unchanging character of our God who is the same “yesterday, today, and forever.”

With heaven’s view, we can press on and not lose heart. Every hurt, every disappointment, every sleepless night of pain and even persecution comes not to harm us but for our good and God’s glory. (Romans 8:28). From heaven’s view, even the cross does not end in defeat… but resurrection.

From heaven’s view, all things work together… nothing is random, wasted, aimless, or amiss. From heaven’s view, though weeping comes for a night, joy comes in the morning. From heaven’s view, a perspective through our Father’s eyes and God’s sovereign throne,

…it can be well with our soul.

The Deep

Most of us have vivid memory of the first time we stepped out of shallow water into the deep. That moment of sheer exhilaration and magical weightlessness that comes is followed by sheer panic and fear as a mouth-nose-lungful of water floods in! It may have been an accidental foray or a swimming lesson; going from the wading side of a pool past the rope that marks the deep end. Or perhaps it was a lake, the creek or salty, ocean water when your feet suddenly could not feel the stability of the bottom.

Maybe you were aware enough to fight to keep yourself afloat in that moment. In all likelihood, a rescuing hand reached out to save you from the water. Once on vacation when our kids were smaller, Dave (then about 5 or 6) decided in enthusiasm to jump into the swimming pool at the motel where we were staying. He chose the deep end. Sank like a rock. In panic, I jumped in after him… clothes, shoes, wallet and all… to grab his hand and pull him to safety.

Today may be for you (as it is for us) a time of “doing business with God in the deep.” (Psalm 107:23-24) Maybe it is a time of helpless or hopeless sinking, and you find yourself struggling to breath. The waves seem to get higher and the bottom farther away. And you await the rescuing hand of God.

He is coming. Your Savior knows where you are today. Though your circumstances may be washing over you like huge ocean waves… though stability provided by your own strength seems a thing of the past… your Deliverer sees you and is coming.

God receives the greatest glory in the “deep.” If we spent our lives wading shallow creeks or kiddie pools, we would see and know little of the glory of God because we feel that we are sufficient and our strength is enough. There is no need to trust. But as we cry out to Him in those times in the depths of life, we will find how small is our strength and how great is our God. We find that we are not forsaken or abandoned. And we find our deliverance will be accomplished…but not in our strength or by our own ability…

…only by His.

Worship on the Mountaintops and in the Valleys

\We can worship on the mountaintop but we get to know God in the valley. I love mountaintops. I sat on a rooftop in Antigua and looked across the vista to two volcanic mountains (one puffing smoke) and thought, “I wonder what the view would be like from there?”

I’m sure spectacular. But as I write this, I am sipping freshly brewed Antiguan coffee which boasts on the package, “grown in the Antiguan valley of Guatemala.” Not the mountain peak. Not the high points. The valley is where growth happens.

The valley is where the battles happen, too. In the Bible, many of the great battles that Israel fought in the Old Testament took place in valleys. And many of God’s greatest acts of deliverance happened there too.

We can worship on the mountaintop but we grow deep in the valley. We can sing about God from the mountaintop, but we get to know God in the rich, fertile soil of the valley.

When Jesus took three disciples to a mountaintop, (Matthew 17:1-13) the Bible tells us He was transfigured (transformed) before them. And as He stood clothed in a glorious Heavenly light, “his face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2) and two men stood talking with Him; Moses and Elijah.

Peter was immediately struck with the (wrong) idea: Let’s build three tabernacles and just stay here! But the response of the Son of God was not, “let’s just stay and have church.” He called them back down to the valley where He had to go to suffer and die and be raised to life again.

God keeps calling us back to the valley. We would rather stay on the mountain where the view is wonderful. But God would rather we stay in the valley where the fellowship, growth and fruitfulness is at its peak… and where the cross awaits.

We can worship God on the mountain… but we get to know God in the valley.

Father, may we shine as brightly in the dark valleys of life as we do in the clear air of the mountaintops… for you are as much God in one place as You are in the other.

A Word from Pastor Tim 07/12

I find myself again needing to express the sense of gratitude that Pam and I feel for the continual stream of encouragement and the caring gifts of food, gift cards, and most of all, prayers from our beloved Fruit Cove family for Pam’s recovery.

We are literally overwhelmed each day knowing the body of Christ is reaching out to us and ministering in ways both visible and invisible. Knowing that prayerful vigils, thoughtful emails, cards and Facebook posts and wonderful meals are being offered to ease our journey in the wilderness of this experience brings grace in ways that you cannot imagine without experiencing it.

And we certainly could not fathom going through this trial without knowing that a faithful, church family is standing with us and kneeling before the Father continually carrying our burden to Him. Though our journeys out are becoming more and more difficult our hearts join yours in worship to our good, good Father as Fruit Cove gathers on Sunday. We worship and weep with you in praise to our Heavenly Father and Healer.

We are learning each day to look to God for our daily need, knowing that He promises renewed strength for each day as we trust Him to provide. Daily we are leaning deeper into Him, and know that “underneath are the everlasting arms.”

From devotional writer Andrew Murray, we are learning four anchor points to secure us:

  1. We are here by His purpose.
  2. We are here under His care.
  3. We are here for our training.
  4. We are here until His timing is fulfilled.

So we walk by faith and trust His heart and His provision and His purpose. Long ago we surrendered our lives to Him and gave ourselves completely to His control. We continue to do so.

And He has never, ever let us down.

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