Fruit Cove Baptist Church


Pastor Tim's Blog

What is Mission Jax?

June 8th-13th, 2015

“A City Not Forsaken” -Isaiah 62:12

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.

Please contact Switzerland Community Church at switzerlandcommunitychurch.org or Fruit Cove Baptist Church at http://missionjax.com/  on how to get involved or potential community job projects.

What Does It Matter If We Share Jesus With Others

“…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!

A Renewed Mind

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….

Forever.

3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide

Picture1Pastor 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:

3-Circles Life Conversation Guide Demonstration from North American Mission Board on Vimeo.

If you have not already done so, take a minute to download the app to your smartphone from either of these app stores:

apple_store_button  google_play_button

 

Finally, take a look at the Life On Mission Page from the North American Mission Board and discover other resources to help you share the 3 Circles Conversation with others.

The Bible or Flesh & Blood Relationships?

Rob Bell is at it again.  The former megachurch pastor and author of such controversial books as “Love Wins” (advocating that there is no Hell) is now proposing that churches who choose to stand against homosexuality are going to be irrelevant.  Citing his belief on Oprah Winfrey’s Oxygen network, Bell has suggested that a church that relies on “2,000 year old letters” as their best defense over “flesh and blood relationships” is a church that is moving quickly toward irrelevance to our culture.

Once again, Bell is making the fatal error of putting human desire and fulfillment as the moral guideline for all behavior.  In other words, if what I want conflicts with what the “2,000 year old letters (the Bible)” say, then what I want always wins.

The problem this presents is pretty obvious.  If we do not consider these “2000 year old letters” authoritative, we have nothing on which to build the church.  I would argue that the quickest path to irrelevance is not accepting the standards set forth in the ancient record, but rejecting them as the Word of God.

His argument, further, is that most of our culture and many of our churches have already accepted homoerotic behavior as a normative lifestyle that is not to be judged or rejected as sinful or wrong.  In other words, everybody else is doing it… we may as well give in and join the party!

But how do we live as “salt and light” in a decaying culture if we simply echo what the culture is saying and doing?   Rob Bell has found a new home serving as a spiritual advisor to Oprah Winfrey.

I certainly pray he isn’t yours.

“Former Megachurch Pastor Rob Bell: A Church That Doesn’t Support Gay Marriage Is ‘Irrelevant’, The Huffington Post,  February 20, 2015.

Our New Inalienable Right

We have added a new category of rights as citizens of these United States: the inalienable right to be offended. I don’t remember hearing this much growing up; I believe this is a relatively new phenomenon.

I have received letters, emails, or phone calls from people offended at something I was supposed to have said. It is as though we use a magic word, a trump card that must receive attention immediately when used: “I am offended.”

It is a part of being American these days. We hear it on news stories, see it played out in our daily interactions, and encounter it at seemingly every turn. We wear our feelings on our sleeves, and live on the lookout with our antennae high waiting for someone to bump our emotions and allow us to proclaim, “I’m offended!” Frankly, it offends me when I see Christians play this card. I believe that one of the rights we surrender when we become Christ’s is the right to be offended. We REALLY need to learn to get over it for the sake of our witness in the world.

The Bible says two things about offences. First, “they are bound to come.” It is unavoidable that offences will come our way. Does this mean we have a right to play the “I’m offended” game when it happens? Don’t think so.

Second, the Bible tells us to be careful not to be offensive to others. “It is better for you to have a millstone tied around your neck and be thrown into the sea” than for you to “offend one of these little ones.” The Biblical word that we translate “offense” is literally “skandalon.” (scandal or scandalous). We have a Gospel that, communicated clearly, will offend some who hear it. That gives us no right to be offensive in how we communicate it, but it also calls us to lay down our right to be offended by or offense to those who need to hear it. I wonder if our right to be offended is offensive to God?

Let’s lower our offences. Let’s find ways to allow the petty hurts and disagreeable ideas we sometimes hear to pass us by without response. Let’s agree to be different than the culture around us.

(By the way, I fully expect to hear from someone who was offended by this column….just sayin’.)

Living Lives of Holiness

We are to live lives of holiness. ‘BE HOLY AS I AM HOLY” SAYS THE LORD.  WE are to live in the world….surrounded by our culture; caring about the issues that the world cares about, even understanding the culture. However the Bible qualifies that kind of contextual lifestyle of cultural immersion by warning that we are not to become like the world. “Come out from among them and be separate says the Lord…and touch not the unclean thing.” That’s the balancing act.  HOW do we walk the very thin tightrope of living in a pagan, idolatrous, God-denying culture and balance our testimony, our credibility, and our profession of faith without, borrowing a phrase from Kevin DeYoung, punching a “hole in our holiness?”

WE LIVE OUT our faith and our testimony, our conviction and our commitment the same way we would eat an elephant: One bite at a time.

The question becomes, not “can you live the rest of your life in holiness and righteousness?” but “can you make this next decision before you in a way that is God-honoring, Christ exalting, and Biblically faithful? It is God’s promise to give us the strength to overcome if we ask.

The challenges to living out our faith are becoming more and more difficult in this world.  Even Christian people who should be living in the trenches with us are abandoning their posts.

But the call is to stand fast….one battle at a time…one blow at a time…one temptation at a time.

And one day, and that day is coming….

The elephant will be gone.

 

A Darker Shade of Gray

This Valentine’s Day a bombshell movie is going to drop into the consciousness of our culture.  Fandango has already called it the fastest selling advance ticket movie in their history.  Anticipation abounds as fans await the release of the movie version of EL James’ book “Fifty Shades of Grey.”  (Ironically, the name “Grey” in the title is spelled after the name of the book’s main character.  The double reference, however, is to the morally “gray” areas of what the book is really about).

But should Christ followers watch it or even read the book?  This has become the controversial question swirling around what is now a cultural phenomenon, even before the release of the movie Valentine’s Day weekend.  Is it appropriate for Christians to use, read, or view video erotica?

The UK has already banned children from seeing the movie (at least in theaters).  While I wish the same would be done in the US, we are not going to see that.  But then, the pros and cons of legislating morality versus freedom of expression is not my intent here.

I want to ask the question over the next few blogs, what does Christian morality look like?  How much of the world do we imbibe before we are washed out into “a whiter shade of gray?”  What does it mean, practically, to stand before the world as blood-washed, forgiven, transformed people of God?  Does Christian distinction mean we have to live prudish, condescending, isolationist, and judgmental lives of holiness or is there “wiggle room” in our position?

Several texts inform our stand in relationship to the culture around us:
“Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  (James 4:4b)

“Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from immorality.”  (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

Each of these texts have something in common with us today:  They were all written to Christians living in sexually saturated, seductive, and immoral cultures.  It is clear from each of these texts that the expectation of Scripture is that it is both possible and expected that we live differently than the world around us.  And that this specifically works itself out in how we handle sexuality.

Here is one of the main reasons I would advise you not see this movie:  The movie will not be over when it’s over.  It will remain with you  (multiplied millions of dollars have been spent already to insure that).  The images, concepts, and ideas will be sugar coated, airbrushed, and placed in an attractive, appealing, and oh-so-innocent seeming context.  And they won’t leave you for a very long time.

In reality, they are not innocent.  And they are not ok.  It is not “gray.”
Spiritually….. they’re just black.

Grow Up

Grow up.  How many times have we told our children that, or heard it ourselves (maybe from our spouse)?  Growing up is a spiritual reality for the normal  Christian life. The omega point-the end game, if you would-is maturing into Christ-likeness in our attitudes, our worldview, and our personal relationships.  It involves how we are relating to God, as well as to others.  Are you growing up?

One sage advised that spiritual growth can be evaluated by using these diagnostic questions:

1)  Am I less likely to become disappointed?
2)  Am I less likely to become impatient?
3)  Am I less likely to become embittered?

•  Are we likely to become disappointed when life does not work out like we’d planned or like we would want it to?  If so, we are disappointed with God.  Our spiritual growth sags when this happens.  If we really believed “all things are working together for the good,” (note:  not necessarily OUR good) then we will be less likely to become disappointed.  This is a measurement of HOPE.

•  Are we likely to become impatient?  Now I don’t think this means we don’t become impatient and sometimes irritated with others, though there is some of that implied in this word.  I think this means we are becoming more patient with OURSELVES.  This is a measurement of FAITH.  Do we have faith that God is at work shaping us into the image of Christ?

• Are we likely to become embittered?  This has to do with how we react in relationship to others.  Do the actions, attitudes, and decisions of others tend to leave us bitter?  Do we hold on to grudges (pronounced “grrrrrr-udges”) when others cross us or fail us?  This is finally a measurement of our LOVE.

In short, are you growing up?  Are these things becoming less characteristic of life as we grow in the “grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?  They should if we are really “growing up” in Jesus.

“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from becoming useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (2 Peter 1:8 HCSB)

Sacrificial generosity matters

Recently I received a note from David Clippard of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  In this note David told of a tragic story that took place earlier this fall in Northern Iraq.  The family, headed by a single mother named Faithful, was warned by IS insurgents that they must leave their home and village since they refused to convert to Islam.  Faithful refused to do so, and several days later while she was away the insurgents returned, poured gasoline throughout their home and covered her 23 year old daughter, Rita, with gasoline as well.  They then set the home and her daughter on fire.  Faithful returned home to her daughter’s screams, and the screams of her younger daughter who was trapped in a back room.  The fire was extinguished, but Rita was badly burned over her face and most of her body.  The next days were filled with constant stays at a local hospital as Faithful applied lotion to her daughter’s badly burned body.  Unfortunately, the burns were so bad that Rita could not recover.  Just before she died, she looked at her mother and said, “You have to forgive them, Mother.  Please forgive them.”

We cannot imagine the horror of such circumstances, but people around the world live through this and sometimes worse.  Because of your gifts and generosity through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year, you gave our missionaries on the field resources to minister to this bereaved mother and to help relocate this displaced and terrorized family.

Thank you for always making a difference by giving generously.  Your dollars are transformed into Jesus’ love and touch, pouring a salve on the wounds of the world, and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the darkest places on the planet.

The sacrificial generosity you gave mattered.

It always does.

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