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Author: Steve Clifton

Aging With Grace

When we read God’s Word, we see that the grace we need for all of these days, whether we’re in our early adult years or farther along in our life here on earth, is a gift from God. God is the giver of grace (James 5:6). There is an old hymn that I love very much. It is named “He Giveth Again.” I want to tell you a little of the story of the hymn writer of this hymn, Annie Johnson Flint. Annie had been born on Christmas Eve, 1866, in Vineland, N.J., to parents Eldon and Jean Johnson, and they looked at her as their greatest earthly gift. Three years later, little Annie would lose her mother, who died as she gave birth to her baby sister. Her only remembrance of her mother’s face was after the birth of her sister; she saw her Mom lovingly holding her new child before her death. Mr. Johnson,...

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Caring for the Dying

How many times have you heard this statement: “Well, heaven has gotten a new angel today?” I’ve heard that so many times in my ministry life following the death of a loved one. But this is not a truthful statement. God has created the angels as heavenly beings, and He did that so they worship Him and protect us from the Evil One. He uses them as messengers, and they are fearsome in appearance (Luke 2:9-10). We should certainly agree with the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:21 that when our loved ones depart this life for their eternal one, this is to be our belief– “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Why do we say things like this in the event of a loved one’s passing? We say things that can be unbiblical because we are not comfortable and don’t really know what to say. I...

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Caring for the Sick

In a world of hate, it is a joy to minister to brothers and sisters with compassion! Twenty-eight years ago, when God relocated our family to Jacksonville, we found First Baptist church to be a wonderful family of faith. People lived out in their lives what they believed as they loved God and loved each other while faithfully serving Him. The Covid lockdowns brought so much turmoil and despair to our world. It seems like we found ourselves in a downward spiral rather than one moving up.  Many families were isolated from others. There were impacts on our schedules and work habits. There was a strong uptick in crimes like drug and alcohol abuse, depression, child and spousal abuse, and suicide. The hospitals, nursing homes, and funeral homes were closed to people visiting and connecting. James...

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When Your Loved One is Consumed by Drugs, Alcohol, and Life-Dominating Sins

One of the most devastating things a parent can learn is that your child is addicted to drugs, alcohol, or any other life-dominating sin! We question many times, “what did I do wrong as a parent?” The same can be true when it is not our child but a close family member or even a friend. From studying Scripture, we know that Psalm 1:1 teaches us the progression of mankind toward sin. God tells us in this verse, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” Did you pick up that progress there? Walks, stands, sits? Your loved one has taken that progression, and something other than God has now become their master. The root of an addiction is really a desire of their heart that has turned into an idol they...

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Trusting God in the Wake of Health Issues

Over the past few years, God has sought ways to get my attention. I am one who seeks to be always positive and congenial, always seeking to find the best in the situation with which I am faced. Over the last ten years, we as a church have sought to provide Biblical counsel to those we shepherd, along with intense discipleship for those who present themselves to us from other churches. During these years, I have been challenged to look within my heart to see what I can decipher as the “heart themes” that I deal with concerning desires, emotions, wants, drives, and, ultimately, idols. I have discovered in those teachable moments that control is the overarching heart theme that God desires to change in me so that I can trust him more fully. I have discovered that I really do not want to have...

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