Category: Uncategorized

What would you do for $10 million?

What would you do for $10 million? In a study, 25% of people said they would leave their family; 25% said they would leave their church and another 25% said they would deny their faith. Almost as many said they would become a prostitute for a week. Another 7% said they would kill a stranger. (Hope I don’t run into them!)

The truth is, money has a grip on us. It means something more than income to get us through the day or food and clothing and a home for our family. The “love of money is the root of all kinds of evil,” 1st Timothy chapter 6 tells us. Richard Foster said, “Money has a sense of omnipotence about it.”

In other words, money will eat your lunch if you don’t manage it according to the principles of God’s Word. Do you trust God enough to adjust your life to do what He says with it? And maybe an even bigger question is, “can God trust you?” This is the question of stewardship that we are considering in worship this month.

Will you take His Word about what we are to do with the resources we have been entrusted with and allowed to manage? Jesus said we lose what we keep… we gain what we release.

Don’t let money own you. Don’t let it buy and sell your soul. Use it for the purposes God intended, and in ways that He can be glorified.

Live so God can say, “Yes, I can trust you with money.” Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all of these other things will be added to you as well. God is looking for stewards that He can trust to faithfully handle the resources He graciously provides. Be sure to live so that you will hear,

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Operation Christmas Child 2017

occ_logoIt’s time for Operation Christmas Child!

On Sunday, October 29 and November 5, we’ll be distributing boxes from the Welcome Center patio after all morning services. Last year was a banner year as we collected 1,407 boxes from FCBC members to send all over the world.

Each year, many ask “What do we put in a shoe box?” Here are a couple of places to get info that might help:

  • The Operation Christmas Child site has some helpful information, especially for girls and boys at various ages.
  • Another great source is a blog post entitled “Unsolicited Advice About Shoeboxes.” This is written by folks who serve in areas where boxes have been delivered and their insight in “Not So Good Gifts” is very helpful.

Remember to pickup your box and return it completed during the collection week of November 12-20.

Exceedingly Great & Precious

The Promises of God

We stand upon and live by promises made by God. Even if we are not inclined to acknowledge God’s faithfulness to us we are still dependent on them. Our salvation is dependent on God’s promises. Our provision is dependent on them. Our daily existence in fact, is dependent upon the promises of a God who is unalterably faithful.

So we know they are there; hundreds, like buried gold in a running stream. The “exceedingly great and precious promises of God.” (2 Peter 1:4). During my recent pilgrimage I stayed a week in Blue Ridge, GA, along the banks of the Toccoa River. Just a few yards uphill from where I stayed was a camp where you could pay a small fee and spend the day mining for gold. They virtually guaranteed you would find some. I never went. Gold was there for the taking… I just chose to pass.

We do that all the time. We read the Word, know it’s there, know it’s true. But some go to the trouble of “mining” it out, and find themselves much richer for the effort. I pray for us that we will not just know they are there, but will reach down and take them for ourselves.

A few things we need to do to make these promises the blessing God intends them to be:

REMEMBER them. We need to cling to these “exceedingly great” promises, but we sometimes (well, often) forget them. Meditate on a promise. Make one promise your promise this week. Don’t go wide in your hunt. Go deep.

SHARE them. It may be a helpful practice when you are working through a promise and seeking to really imbed it in your life, to tell someone about it. Put it on your Facebook page. Tweet it out. When somebody sends you theirs, share it with others in your network. Let’s rain the promises down through social media.

SPEAK them. Attempt to work them into your prayer life and in your conversations. Speaking them aloud gives your brain one more place to “hang” the memory of God’s precious promise to you.

REPEAT. Do it every week. How long? Until you have appropriated them all. Should keep most of us busy for the rest of our lives!

Stand on the promises of God. They are the rock that never shakes beneath you.

My Plan

Since the week after Pam’s celebration of life at Fruit Cove, I have been on a journey; spiritual, physical, and emotional. I have driven almost 2,700 miles. It began with just revisiting areas of our life together… geographic touchpoints… that allowed me to remember, weep and give thanks for God’s goodness in allowing our lives to intersect.

Our first home site, the church where we grew up and later married, the places we worked, the places where we dated, and along the way I met with people who touched our lives and gave guidance, models and counsel to us. I was allowed to preach the homecoming for the church we served over ten years near Louisville, Ky. These have been rich days… necessary days actually… to allow me to fully enter grief and begin that experience.

I have also had the privilege in these days of spending time with Pam’s mother and sisters and her “side” of the family tree and to rest with them in God’s comfort. Their grief has been multiplied not only by Pam’s death but also by Pam’s father’s passing. In these days, I have lived with my brother and sister-in-law who have offered rich shelter and much grace to me. They are also caring for my mother as she has passed 90 years… her birthday was on the day of Pam’s homegoing. She is going through her own trials with breast cancer as well.

Along the way I spent a week in a cabin in Blue Ridge, NC, a retreat I hope to enjoy more often. Some new friends have offered me shelter there on their property overlooking the Toccoa River.

To be accountable to you, my church family and friends, I have also begun grief counseling and intend that to continue for this season. In all, it has been needed reflection, prayer, and opportunity to begin work on a book.

My plans at this time are to begin to enter back into “new” normal as I try to close doors on this chapter of my past. If you have been on this grief journey, you know how hard that is to do. I will not do it perfectly, of that I am certain.

I intend to return to “regular” preaching on October 15 and October 29. My duties as trustee for the Baptist College of Florida are also on my agenda as well as serving on the Executive Committee of the SBC. Both are tremendous privileges for which I am grateful to be asked to serve.

My office hours will be sporadic for a bit as I enter back in to “life” as it now is. We have tremendous challenges laid before our church body now with added efforts to assist the hurricane-ravaged Caribbean Islands as well as south Florida. And Advance 2020 is beginning its two-year countdown in January, as I celebrate my 25th anniversary with you.

“So is your journey done?” I was asked in earnest by a friend. My answer was, for now, my traveling is. Someone else asked me if I was running from something or running toward something. The answer is, “Yes. Both.” There are certainly things I am not looking forward to doing. But I am encouraged as clarity has begun to return.

Grief is not a “cycle” or a linear, stage-by-stage process. It is an experience that we endure. Along the way, you will meet denial and anger, depression and sorrow, regret and tears. I will carry this burden for some time I am sure.

So the best answer I can give to you as to “how are you doing” is “I am grieving well.” We don’t get to hide from it, avoid it or pretend it doesn’t bring crushing pain.

But as we have claimed, said and sung through this journey, we have a good, good Father. And no matter where your journey has taken you…

He is good all the time.

Game Changers

Living in the Big Blue Nation this past week, I have been forced over and again to relive Kentucky’s painful loss last weekend (31st time in a row) to the Florida Gators. Our last minute failure to cover an open player cost us the game. That was by definition a game changer.

But some game changers have higher stakes. (We’ll get ’em next year!) These “game changing” moments take lots of shapes and forms. An illness has changed the game for some. A hurricane for others. Perhaps a death. But when these moments come, life changes for a while or maybe forever.

We can’t avoid these moments. They come at us unexpectedly, without warning or notice. But everything changes in their wake. And sometimes what they leave behind is fear… of the unknown, of the uncertainty of the future.. even of survival.

Someone has said, “fear is a condition, but trust is a decision.” In Psalm 56:3, we read, “When I am afraid (condition) I will trust in You (decision).” You can’t keep conditions that generate fear and uncertainty from coming into your life.

But you can make the biggest game changing decision of all:

Choose to trust.

Praying for our schools

This Sunday, August 14 prayer walks are scheduled for Duval & St. Johns County Schools:

  • 2pm- elementary campuses
  • 3pm- middle schools
  • 4pm- high schools

Participate in the prayerwalk at the school(s) you are zoned for.

Here are 10 prayers for schools:

  1. Love. “Father, may the students and staff of this school experience Your love through the Christians they know in profound and authentic ways” (John 13:35).
  2. Truth. “Lord, release truth in this school. Help students to rightly discern truth and not believe false teachings” (Proverbs 23:23).
  3. School board. “I pray blessings on each school board member (try to pray for them by name). Father, may your will be done at board meetings” (Romans 13:1).
  4. Principal, Faculty and Staff. “May (name of principal) recognize the God-given responsibility he/she has for the best interests of the children who attend the school. May the faculty and staff walk in wisdom, integrity, grace, and truth” (Proverbs 2:1-11).
  5. Failing students. “Lord, I ask you to encourage those children who are struggling with their studies. Strengthen their minds. Help their teachers and parents know how to help them learn. Protect them from feelings of worthlessness and shame” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
  6. Violence. “Lord, stay the hand of violence against the children and staff of this school. Dismantle any plan to bring harm to them. Expose any weapon brought into the school premises and render it harmless” (Psalm 34:7; 54:1).
  7. Christian programs. “Father, I pray for abundant blessings on programs that bring Christ into this public school. Help the groups who sponsor such programs function according to your Word and in harmony with each other. Bless the leaders and bring forth new and growing believers” (1 Corinthians 12:12,13).
  8. Christian students. “Grant the Christian students who attend this school wisdom and boldness in living out their faith. Help them share effectively the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ with their classmates” (1 Timothy 4:12).
  9. A chosen generation. “Father, may your kingdom come. From the students at this school, raise up a generation of people who worship you in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23,24; 1 Peter 2:9).
  10. An open door. “Lord, may there be an open door in this school for the gospel to be shared with students and staff. Allow full advantage to be taken of every opportunity to name the name of Jesus” (Matthew 7:7; 1 Corinthians 16:9).

Leadership 44

Most of us are good forgetters. We remember, according to most common statistics, about 3 percent of the things that happen to us and store those in conscious memory. The other 97% we forget. (Some days for me I think it may be 99%!) But normally, our conscious memory stuffs the majority of our life memories and experiences into the storage files of our unconscious basement. Unless that is, you are afflicted with a syndrome called hyperthymestic syndrome… the inability to forget.

Those with this rare condition can recall with great and sometimes painful detail, every moment of their lives. The good, the bad, the really painful and awkward moments of childhood, as well as the pleasant ones of course.

But imagine for a moment the ability to recall the detailed wording of every commercial you ever sat through; every inane TV script, the words of every book, the names of every person you have met… and what they said to you.

Forgetting it seems, may be a gift! In fact, it may sometimes be one of the greatest gifts. There are those things you should never forget but for this article, let’s talk about things we should.

We should forget when someone injures us; when we suffer pain. We should forget when we fail God, ourselves or others. We should forget those moments of not feeling we measure up. We should forget our fearful nights; our nagging insecurities. We should forget when someone asks us to forgive them.

God, though sovereign and omniscient (all-knowing), can choose to forget. He chooses to forget where we have sinned against Him and incurred His wrath. He chooses to forget our failures and our blatant disobedience.

In fact, the Bible gives us a very visual way that God forgets: it says He takes our sins and casts them into the depths of the sea… a place of eternal forgetfulness. And He holds them against us no more.

There’s one thing that needs to remain in that place of remembrance in our minds, however. It needs to stay close to the top of the list of the most important things:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1


FOR MEDITATION: And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins no more. Hebrews 8:12

FOR REFLECTION: How many times have you gone “fishing” for sins that God has forgotten? Remember, as Corrie Ten Boom said, that God has placed a “no fishing” sign over those sins!

Leadership 15: I will serve them on their journey

A Leadership Cue Card: I will serve them on their journey

Compelled by love, I will empty myself of self and live for the benefit of others. I want to see who they can become in Christ, trust them to realize that potential and serve them on their journey.

As we bring this week of devotions to a close, look back on what we have studied this week. Our goal was to develop a brief, “index-card ready” statement of beliefs about leadership. I would like you to re-consider that statement one final time today through a different lens: What if the leaders you followed adopted this philosophy of leadership? How would you respond to their leadership?

Who has influenced you to become the person you are today? Who continues to challenge you to greatness in your discipleship and service to others? Who coaches you to success and corrects you when you fail? As we re-consider our leadership cue card, think about how those who influence you most model the characteristics we have examined together. As you do that, think about your relationship with those leaders. How much of their influence flows out of the model of the concepts on our leadership cue card?

Compelled by love…

What motivates those who influence you to serve you? Do you perceive they are “in it to win it for themselves” or are you joined together in the battle? Have the leaders over you been controlled, directed and focused on a desire for the welfare of others over their own needs? How do you respond to their leadership?

I will empty myself of self…

How would you describe the ego of those leading you: are they edging God out or exalting God only? Would you describe them as selfish or selfless? Is their battle to “empty myself of self” over or is it an ongoing struggle? How do you respond to their leadership?

And live for the benefit of others.

How have the leaders around you shared the benefits gained with you and others? Do they serve with an expectation of reward? How do you respond to their leadership?

I want to see who they can become in Christ…
How have those with the greatest influence over you challenged you to grow and develop your skills, talents and character? In what ways does their interaction with you reflect a pastor’s heart and care for you? How do they affirm that you are of great value to God and the Kingdom? How do you respond to their leadership?

Trust them to realize that potential…

To what degree to those who lead you micromanage you? In what ways do you recognize that they trust you to do the right thing? When you fail, how do they respond? How do you respond to their leadership?

And serve them on their journey.

Would you consider those who have and are influencing you as serving you? Why? How accurately does the term “servant leader” apply to those who have the greatest influence over you? How do you respond to their leadership?

Do you see a common theme in your answers? I am going to go out on a limb that those who have the greatest influence in your life have demonstrated that they have a genuine concern for your benefit. They may not have expressed their leadership exactly as we have described, but I believe there is evidence that love, humility, altruism, optimism, trust and service are among the values that drive them.

So, how have you responded to their leadership in your life? Do you see where their values have become yours, or, at a minimum shaped your thinking on leadership? How has their humble servant leadership made them great?

Jesus taught the disciples and those gathered around him

The greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Matthew 23:11-12 (HCSB)

It has been my hope this week that you would see that servant leadership is significant, of great value, possible and sorely needed in our world today. In your home, your workplace, your school and in your closest relationships, I pray you will take this leadership cue card and lead those around you with love, humility, altruism, optimism, trust and service.


For reflection: Please take time to consider the many questions listed above. Ask God to show you how you might be a more influential person to your friends and family.

For memorization: “The greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12 (HCSB)

Leadership 14: Trust them to realize that potential

A Leadership Cue Card: Trust them to realize that potential

They stood on a Galilean mountainside. Eleven disciples and Jesus. Mark tells us that in the last few days, Jesus had rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart because they did not believe those who saw Him after the resurrection (Mark 16:15). Matthew tells us when they saw Him on the mountain, they worshiped, but some doubted (Matt 28:17). Luke says they were eager to know if this was the time He would restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6)

None of the writers tell us directly what Jesus thought at that moment. If it were me, I would probably be shaking my head and asking myself, “What was I thinking? Father, are you sure? These ragamuffin, doubting, betraying, still rough around the edges men? Can I trust them?”

Then He spoke. We know what He said. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:15-16 (HCSB) He was taken into heaven before them.

He trusted them. Jesus trusted the disciples with His continued mission to redeem all of creation.

It was not misplaced.

Where are we in our leadership cue card?

Compelled by love, I will empty myself of self and live for the benefit of others. I want to see who they can become in Christ and trust them to realize that potential…

It is a matter of trust.

James Kouzes and Barry Pozner in the book The Leadership Challenge, say trust is “the central issue in human relationships.” Leaders who build trusting relationships are willing to consider alternative viewpoints and to make use of other people’s expertise and abilities. On the other hand, managers in a distrustful environment often take on a self-protective posture, are directive and hold tight the reins of power.

Leaders who trust followers to live up to their potential begin with a simple premise that people basically want to do the right thing. When people do not live up to those expectations, it is often because they do not have capacity, the competency, or it is a character issue.

When people do not have capacity in their schedule, they do not necessarily do the wrong thing as much as they do nothing. The servant leader’s response is to help them create capacity or manage their schedule for them. The former is more helpful than the latter. When a follower lacks the competency, the leader can offer training or can take the work back. Again, the former is more helpful than the latter. If the follower refuses to do the right thing because of a character issue, the remedy is a hard, but necessary conversation.

Unfortunately, the less than helpful approach many leaders take is to micromanage their followers when they fail to do the right thing. Micromanagers resist delegating, immerse themselves in oversight, take back delegated work before it is finished or if they find a mistake and discourage others from making decisions without consultation. This approach does not build trust; rather it destroys it and leads to animosity, anxiety and frustration.

If leaders begin with the premise that followers basically want to do the right thing, they can diagnose the root issue – most often capacity, competency or character – and help followers live up to their potential by creating room to grow in their capacity, training to improve competency or coaching them to strengthen their moral character.

Nehemiah trusted the exiles in Jerusalem to live up to their potential. Nehemiah chapters 3 and 4 give an account of the actual rebuilding of the wall. Nehemiah could not be everywhere and he could not do all the work. So he developed a plan, delegated the work (according to the capacity and competency of the people) and trusted its implementation.

In Nehemiah chapter 7, he tells us

When the wall had been rebuilt and I had the doors installed, the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites were appointed. Then I put my brother Hanani in charge of Jerusalem, along with Hananiah, commander of the fortress, because he was a faithful man who feared God more than most. Nehemiah 7:1-2 (HCSB)

Nehemiah left these in charge and returned to Babylon. When he returned, however, Nehemiah learned that some the people he had left in charge had failed. As a result, he instituted reforms that helped restore trust. In some cases, he had to replace people with others. What was the guideline he used to select these replacements?

I appointed as treasurers over the storehouses Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah of the Levites, with Hanan son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah to assist them, because they were considered trustworthy. They were responsible for the distribution to their colleagues. Nehemiah 13:13 (HCSB)

Sometimes followers do not live up to expectations. They may be overworked or undertrained. In some cases, they must be removed from their position. A wise servant leader responds not by micromanaging but by serving.


For reflection: Do you expect the best out of people? Are you a micromanager? Are you worthy of trust?

For memorization: … they were considered trustworthy. They were responsible…    Nehemiah 13:13

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