Secret Church 15: Christ, Culture, and a Call to Action from Radical on Vimeo.
The next Secret Church gathering (SC15) will take place on Friday, April 24 from 7:00pm until 1am. We invite you to join us for this intense time of worship, prayer for the persecuted church, and Bible study as David Platt leads us in our study of “Christ, Culture, and a Call to Action.”
The culture around us is constantly changing, and successive changes are often accompanied by significant challenges. So how does the call of Christ compel us to respond to these challenges? How does a Christian respond to the rapid rise of so-called same-sex marriage and the increasing acceptance of homosexuality? How does a Christian live in a world of sex slavery and rampant pornography, a world where babies are aborted and widows are abandoned? How does a Christian think in a culture of pervasive racial prejudice and limited religious liberty? What does a Christian do in a church that exalts prosperity amidst a world of extreme poverty? During this Secret Church, we will explore biblical foundations for answers to these questions and come to significant conclusions regarding how Christ calls every Christian to engage culture with a firm grip on the gospel in the church and a fervent passion for God’s glory in the world.
Are You Ready For Secret Church? from Radical on Vimeo.
The next Secret Church gathering will be held at 7pm on Friday, April 24, 2015. We will be studying the topic “Christ, Culture, and a Call to Action.”
Secret Church is 6+ hours of intense, fast-paced, Bible study and prayer for the persecuted church. It has been likened to “drinking from a fire hose.” It is taught by pastor and author, David Platt.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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:
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:
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.
Well, the first college football championship is decided, and while our Florida (and/or Georgia or Alabama) teams didn’t make it all the way, many of us still enjoyed the process. To give you a glimpse into our weekly staff meeting, I thought I would share the following notes from conversation this week. The question of the day was: “What lessons did we learn from the College Football Playoffs that impact our leadership, service or ministry here at Fruit Cove?” Here’s a bullet list summary of our discussion.
- You cannot go by the polls. There is a reason they play the games. Some of the ministries or events we think might work better than others, do not. But, we play and we learn.
- The shining star may not be. Sometimes, the trophy, position player just doesn’t live up to his pre-game publicity. In practically every game, there is a surprise star. When Samuel was looking for Israel’s King, the Bible says “…the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.'” 1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)
- The line of scrimmage is the point of battle. What we do in staff meeting, in worship, or even in Sunday School is not where the battle is won. All those things are important, but the real battle is when we take the hope of Christ into the streets and into the lives of people around us.
- At the end of the day, there will be disappointment. In football, there is a winner and a loser. In life, circumstances don’t always go as we expect. But, we take refuge that there will be another chance. One of my favorite passages on this topic is 2 Corinthians 4:7-10: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” You could say we’re all cracked pots leaking the light of Jesus wherever we go.
- Not everyone gets a trophy. Well, at least not here. (Sorry, kids.) But, there will come a day: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)
- A football stadium is one of the only places outside of church where people sing together. There’s probably a deep lesson there, but I’ll wait for a new worship pastor to help with that one.
- Some mistakes are larger than others. As the Ohio State football team entered the stadium, the team ran over a cheerleader AND a flag bearer tripped. As a result, the flags spelled “OOHI” as they ran down the sidelines. Yes, it was funny, and some thought it was a bad omen, but, as the final score showed, it did not matter at all. And they got it fixed. That’s the important part.
- You have to suit up: training and preparation give way to the game. The Christian life is more than simply showing up repeatedly at church. We all have opportunities to suit up and engage the culture around us with the Gospel truth of Christ.
- Half of the folks are against you. That just goes with the territory when you are trying to be in the world and not of the world. And, remember, they may not be against you, rather, against your coach. And, there is a promise for that: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12 (ESV)
- Speaking of coaches, he is often considered the hero or goat. And he did not even play the game.
- Confidence plays a factor. It was not uncommon to recognize that some coaches paced the sidelines with confidence and others seemed to wander in confusion. Unfortunately, the pace of the game – apart from halftime and brief timeouts – doesn’t afford much time to regain composure when things do not go as planned. Yet, you cannot help but wonder how much the confidence of a coach/leader affects the attitude and performance of a player/follower.
- Size matters. There is a competitive advantage to being bigger/faster/stronger than your opponent. We are blessed at Fruit Cove to have assets to invest in ministry. However, we have to remember that our opponent is not other ministries, rather, he is a spiritual enemy. As the saying goes, “you are never taller than when you are on your knees.”
- Everyone is now #1. As I finish this post, Ohio State’s glowing in the limelight of the national championship is already fading. Attention is now focused on the Super Bowl. And every true college football fan is thinking “just wait until next year!” Isn’t it great that we have regular opportunities to start over, put past failures behind us and pursue new victories.
- Key absences affect the outcome. A player may miss only one play due to injury or equipment malfunctions. That absence, however, often has an impact far greater than that next play. It is crucial that every player be engaged and executing on every play if we are to be our best.
- Oregon fans were humble in victory (and defeat – we think). When Oregon beat FSU in Pasadena, FSU fans were encouraged by the humility and empathy of Oregon fans. Humility is often forged by failure, and we are well served to remember that in our victories.
- Winning begets winning. It seems we are now on the threshold of a “new football dynasty.” One can only hope that the previous point will be well taken by the victors.
- Execution trumps preparation. Finally, as one general mused, “a battle plan rarely survives the first shot of the battle.” The ability to adapt a game plan as necessary and execute it well on a continual basis is the key to success. Perhaps that’s why our spiritual journey as described as one of daily surrender and obedience.
So, there you have it. Postgame analysis by our staff. ESPN is not calling, but God is. He is calling our church to play our game of equipping, engaging and embracing our world with passion and excellence.
Just after Christmas, Newsweek magazine unveiled an unvarnished and unsubstantiated attack against evangelical Christianity. This article was high profile and largely unresearched by a writer who does financial columns for Vanity Fair. The article itself was an insult to any thinking reader, Christian or non-Christian. It was poorly researched, used vitriolic and cartoonish images (“Christians bow before stone images of the Ten Commandments”) and failed to cite those who were most capable of responding to the ridiculous allegations in the article.
I will not spend time here responding to the ludicrous charges. I will take a moment to warn of an impending and tightening circle of innuendo, false charges, and outright attacks against those who truly claim and follow the Lamb of God. That this article was released near Christmas was of highest offense, especially knowing that the same magazine would never consider an outright criticism of the Koran at the outset of Ramadan, even in light of the recent terroristic attack against a French newspaper office.
This is not an effort to gain sympathy or pity for our circumstance in evangelical Christianity. We are going to continue to be marginalized in our culture, especially as issues such as the legitimizing of gay marriage continue to confront us and require a response and we come down on the incorrect side of the issue.
All of this simply confirms what Jesus said. “The servant is not above his master. If they hated me, they will also hate you.” The presence and voice of evangelical Christians in our culture will continue to irritate and provoke those who are of this world. We must expect it, not be surprised by it, and not hate those who spitefully speak against us and misuse and misquote us.
We must pray for them. We must (Jesus’ words) “BLESS THEM.” We must love them. And above all, we must “be ready to give an answer to any who ask for a reason for the hope that is in us.”
Happy New Year.
…welcome to the battle!
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially on TV. All our favorite holiday movies are being broadcast….again and again and again and again… Sunday afternoon for a few moments I visited again with the Griswald family as Chevy Chase hung precariously from the second story of his home stapling Christmas lights…and his shirt sleeve…to the siding. I flipped past the black and white “It’s a Wonderful Life” as the bells chimed and “another angel gets his wings.” I watched Jim Carey as “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” and eveyone’s favorite overgrown “Elf.” I haven’t yet seen the rerun of “A Christmas Story” but I’m sure I’ll watch Ralphie again as he’s ominously warned “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid” by overly responsible adults who don’t want him to have his “Red Ryder” bb gun.
Ironically, among our younger generation, there is a revival of interest in these old reruns of Christmas movies. “Miracle on 34th Street” show the reconciliation of two competing materialistic giants at Christmas time, “White Christmas” showcases the crooning of Bing Crosby, while Clarence the angel earns his wings in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But of all the movies the one that ranks as their favorite (according to a Harris Poll), is “A Christmas Story.” This hilarious retelling of young Ralphie’s efforts to gain possession of the “holy grail,” an all-important BB gun, in spite of curmudgeonly teachers, mean-spirited Santas, and all the mishaps that can befall a nine year old at Christmas time has, somehow, captured the hearts of another generation.
It’s interesting because (1) There is no mention ANYWHERE of Jesus in this movie. (2) The focus of the movie is on the acquisition of a possession which is GUARANTEED to bring happiness and fulfillment. (3) There is no motive for Christmas being about selfless giving, reconciling enemies, or seeing something come about for the common good. It’s all about Christmas as a means to gratify the needs of one person: Ralphie.
Does this mean I won’t watch it….again? Probably will, but I don’t watch it anymore uncritically or just for the sake of nostalgia. I watch it aware of the successful efforts of the filmmaker to create a new meaning for Christmas that has drawn away the hearts of our culture.
And again we ask, “is there room for Christ in Christmas?”
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.